Twitter started testing its voice tweets feature, earlier this June. This feature was introduced for iOS users only but it wasn’t available to all. Voice tweets feature lets you record a snippet of audio to include with a tweet to more iOS users. But perhaps more significantly, Twitter is now saying it plans to add transcriptions to voice tweets to improve accessibility, which could help address criticisms from the feature’s June 17th launch.
Twitter Support announced that voice tweets will be available to more iOS users “so we can keep learning about how people use audio”. iPhone users who have received voice tweets will see a new option in the tweet compose box. Users can tap on the voice tweets button, and start recording a tweet. When the voice tweet is shared it will appear with the user’s profile picture and others can just hit play.
In addition to voice tweets, Twitter is also working on making transcription available for voice tweets. This update comes after Twitter faced criticism for not including accessibility features to voice tweets. It also apologised for the same.
Transcription for audio and video is part of our larger plan to make Twitter accessible for everyone across all features, both existing and new.https://t.co/c9LTPiE003 (2/2)
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 29, 2020
“We’re sorry about testing voice Tweets without support for people who are visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing. It was a miss to introduce this experiment without this support. Accessibility should not be an afterthought,” Twitter said.
Twitter has since announced two new teams dedicated to accessibility, on September 2nd: one promoting accessibility within Twitter’s products, and one focusing on accessibility for Twitter as a business. And as part of that announcement, Twitter said it’s planning to add automated captions to audio and video on the platform by “early 2021.”
It’s unclear when transcriptions might be available in voice tweets. Twitter didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. And if you want to try voice tweets on other platforms, you might have to wait awhile — the company said on its Twitter Support account that voice tweets would be coming to Android and the web sometime in 2021.