The New York Times reported just this February that Facebook is creating a product that would compete with Clubhouse. However, how the product would work or how it would look like were questions that have been left unanswered. Yet, while it is still under development, some new screenshots of the social media giant’s new audio-based product show that it looks like a live audio broadcast experience. It also appears to be an extension of the existing Messenger Rooms of Facebook.
Needless to say, Facebook’s Clubhouse competitor is not a standalone app experience.
The Clubhouse Clone
Moreover, the social media giant has already confirmed that the circulating screenshots are indeed sneak peeks of Facebook’s “exploratory audio efforts.” However, it also noted that they do not represent any live product right now.
Also, the company said that giving details about the product will look like based on the screenshots would be inaccurate. Still, it decided to publish the images to caution that those in-development features are completely different from how it’s live product would look. It noted that anything and everything could change between the images and a public launch.
Still, the aforementioned images at least aided how the social media company is thinking about live video. It also demonstrates where such a social experience could fit within the platform’s existing app. Needless to say, these are something worth considering.
A Reverse Engineer Discovered and Released the Screenshots
Moreover, the said photos were shared by Alessandro Paluzzi, a mobile developer, and reverse engineer. He came across the live audio developments and user interface experiments of Facebook within its Android app’s code. And just like any other reverse engineer, Paluzzi dug around the code so that he could uncover unreleased products in different stages of development. Some of the products, though they were tested, were scrapped. On the other hand, others were able to make it to the market.
In the case of buying Facebook likes online, the app’s code uncovered that the images Paluzzi released show a Live Audio option for Facebook Rooms. Notably, Rooms is the competitor of the teleconferencing platform Zoom that the company launched in May 2020. During that time, the public was hungry for video chat options since there is collective Zoom fatigue due to the pandemic. But since Clubhouse was launched, people now want to turn their screen off and hang out on the audio-based platform.
Right now, when a Facebook user has created a Messenger Room, it would show a group video chat. They can create a Room from ether the Status box of Facebook or Messenger. Using these Rooms, they can virtually hang out with their friends and family. They can even watch Facebook videos together. However, while Messenger Rooms can support up to 50 individuals in a single broadcast, they are not offering a large and public broadcast experience.
Facebook’s Clubhouse Competitor is an Expansion of the Messenger Rooms
The new screenshots released show an expansion of Messenger Rooms. In this new feature, though it is still not available for the public, people will have the ability to choose from one of three various types of Rooms. The choices are the original private video room and either a private or public audio room. This private audio room is a place where people can voice chat with a group. On the other hand, the live audio room is an audio-only room where people can broadcast to a wider group of listeners.
In addition, the private audio room would have its own Room Link. Speakers could then promote this link across Facebook, either through a private message or through a Facebook post. They could also promote it anywhere else on both the web and social media.
On the other hand, the live audio room experience looks a lot similar to Clubhouse. The screenshot is mocked up with the photos of Mark Zuckerberg’s face as a representation of the users’ profiles. The speakers appear at the top of the room. They also have larger, circular profile photos. Meanwhile, the room’s listeners appear with smaller profile pictures below.
Why Facebook Copied Clubhouse Followers
Additionally, there is a section called “followed by speakers” that leads the audience section much similarly to Clubhouse.
According to Paluzzi, the way this live audio rooms product is being developed shows that it would give way for rooms that people could access through Facebook itself. That means users no longer have to switch to Messenger to join a room, making it a great site to buy Facebook followers from.
Moreover, the room would show its title, the total listeners, and the number of speakers. This way, listeners would get an idea of the population of that room.
What Paluzzi has come across is not a final product. Rather, it is only a user interface buried in the code and none of the backends works. The social media giant also emphasized that the images circulating to the public were merely audio experiments.
Still, the images themselves are real. They also represent something that the social media platform has already built. And despite any attempts to downplay the importance of these images, they are still worth examining.
How Facebook Literally Copied Clubhouse
Moreover, a spokesperson from Facebook commented on the images that the reverse engineer has published. She said that the social media giant has been connecting people using video and audio technologies for many years now. Also, they are currently exploring new ways of improving that experience for the users.
Zuckerberg himself believes that audio has several disadvantages over some other formats. This is because, on audio platforms, users do not have to prepare or look good before joining. You can even do something else while joining in a room since you do not have to look at the screen.
Besides, Zuckerberg has praised Clubhouse, saying that it would end up as “one of the modalities around live audio broadcasts.”