Twitter started testing its Instagram Stories-like feature ‘Fleets’ earlier this year. It has been testing it in select countries including India for some time. Twitter has now launched Fleets globally for all users. Twitter did not share any numbers for the usage of the feature, but Joshua Harris, Twitter’s Director of Design, said in a virtual press conference that Fleets have been useful in making people more comfortable on the platform. “We’ve seen Fleets helped people feel more comfortable sharing personal and casual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.”
“A lot of people don’t tweet. With retweets and replies, it feels like a burden to tweet. People lurk, draft tweets, and then do not send them,” Harris said. “Fleets create a lower pressure way to join the conversation. It’ll make people more comfortable to join the conversation, because it’s just for a day, and it won’t be around forever. We’ve also seen more people joining conversations on Twitter, and we’ve seen that people new to Twitter are more comfortable.”
Twitter’s Fleets was launched in India in June earlier this year. Fleets are similar to the Instagram Stories last for 24 hours and appear on top of the timeline. Fleets are displayed with the user’s profile picture and Twitter’s blue colour ring round it. The features around it are also quite the same. You can post text, photos and videos, and share tweets on Fleets, and see who viewed them, but in the more immediate roadmap, Twitter will be adding stickers, more creator tools, and live broadcasting, he said.
Aside from Fleets, Twitter also showed a glimpse of an upcoming feature it calls Audio Spaces, which is a voice chatroom. Maya Patterson, a Product Designer at Twitter, explained that the new feature is meant to create a safe space for intimate conversations in public.
“Voice tweets allow people to share their thoughts, but we imagined a live audio space to communicate with one other person or small groups,” Patterson said. “A space that feels very safe and intimate. We’ve used the metaphor of a well-hosted dinner party. You don’t need to know everyone at the party to have a good time, but everyone should feel comfortable to sit at the table.”
“Safety is critical and we need to get that right for people to leverage live audio spaces, so we’re going to launch this first experiment to a very small group of people, who are disproportionately impacted by harm on the platform — women and people from marginalised communities — and the team is interested and the company is interested in hearing first from this group of people on their feedback on audio spaces,” she added.
The feature will not just be a voice chatroom though — according to Patterson, users will be able to add tweets, and view transcriptions in these spaces so that it can be used in several ways.
Audio Spaces will roll out to select groups first for testing and feedback before a wider rollout. Patterson also said that Voice DMs are being tested by the company, and added that voice tweets and all media will soon get transcriptions to improve accessibility on Twitter.
The team also said that the voice tweets feature is coming to Android but did not share further details, except to say that they’re working hard to make that happen.