Facebook launches Live Audio Rooms and expands app podcast features

Anne Freer | June 22, 2021

App Business

Facebook has been working on a range of audio products to rival Clubhouse and Co.

Now, the social network officially launched its Live Audio Rooms in the US on iOS only.

For the launch, the company partnered with select public figures and a dozen Facebook Groups as well as podcasts, but it will be open to all over the coming months.

All Facebook users will be able to listen to Audio Rooms and podcasts from this week.

Live Audio Rooms function similarly to Clubhouse.

The host’s profile is shown at the top of the screen and listeners are shown at the bottom.

The active speaker is indicated with a ring that glows. Users can raise their hands to speak but they need to be permitted to do so as on Clubhouse.

Hosts can bring on board speakers before a session or invite listeners during a session. There can be a maximum of 50 speakers and the number of listeners in unlimited.

If a friend or follower joins, relevant users are being notified.

As with most content on Facebook, users can like or react to the audio streams.

But Facebook has also added Stars that can be purchase during a session and then sent to reward a speaker. People who send Stars are being bumped to the front row section and marked as supporters.

Organisers can raise funds for charity in this manner, for example.

At the same time, Facebook said it was launching new podcast support for creators. Users can now tune into podcasts on Facebook from a mini player using their smartphones or the desktop app.

The new service asks podcast creators to cache their content and long-term it plans to bolster social features surrounding these podcasts more and more.

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