Airchat – the latest social networking platform for audio communication – review

The new audio-only social networking app Airchat, trending among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, offers a way to communicate via audio. But while the app provides something unique from other social media platforms, it seems that there aren’t so many new features that could captivate the masses.

Audio content has been making its way into our lives for quite some time. In recent years, audiobooks have become a multi-billion dollar industry, while podcasts are being heavily promoted by companies like Spotify. Now, nearly every major media outlet has its own podcast, and many news websites offer the option to listen to articles via audio in addition to reading them.

There is also a growing trend, especially among younger users, to communicate via audio messages because communicating this way may feel more intimate and more convenient.

Having in mind how popular audio content is, it may seem that there should be a popular social network exclusively for audio. After all, we have platforms dedicated to other types of content, including Instagram and TikTok.

Four years ago, the social network Clubhouse tried to become a dedicated platform and gained a lot of interest in Silicon Valley, inspiring other social networks to integrate similar features. Yet, after the initial hype wave, interest in Clubhouse waned. The founders of the social network tried to relaunch it last year, but the attempt was not successful.

Now, there is another social media app for audio called Airchat, popular among tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists of Silicon Valley. The app, first launched last year and relaunched a few weeks ago, was created by Naval Ravikant, creator of the platform for fundraising and connecting startups called AngelList, and Brian Norgard, former Chief Product officer at Tinder.

The founders decided to go the same route as Clubhouse and, at first, made social network invites only. However, on April 20th, the app was made free for users from the US and Europe, while other countries had to join via invitation, as reported by Ravikant on X.

The registration process is smooth, and the app is quite intuitive and easy to use. Every post of people that you follow appears in a timeline similar to that of X (formerly Twitter) but one main difference is that writing text is not allowed.

Users must communicate via audio messages that are automatically transcribed and played out loud, as well as subsequent answers to the original posts. Thus, the app creates a sense of a real conversation and certainly grabs your attention.

However, after my initial enthusiasm, I started noticing that my interest gradually diminished, especially when I was reading longer posts and discussions.

To speed things up, the creators of the app play conversations faster than normal speed, which sometimes doesn’t sound very natural. The users can also choose to read the text instead of playing it out loud. Text-to speech transcription, at least in English, works great.

The biggest problem for me when using AirChat was that there wasn’t much interesting content. Since I live in Europe and do not have connections in Silicon Valley, I didn’t find close friends who would be using the app. But the app recommended people to follow and I could sniff around what random people were discussing.

There are also dedicated channels for various topics one can join, such as fitness, startups, and AI computers, with each having around a couple of thousand users. I also tried to find whom to follow on the app, but it was quite challenging. Apart from a few businessmen, I didn’t see people who would interest me, and some of those who were not active.

Based on the lack of friends and people to follow, it appears that not many users have tried the app besides those early adopters from Silicon Valley. At the time of publishing, the app wasn’t among the 100 most downloaded apps on iOS.

After using the app for a couple days I find it difficult to believe that it could spread far away from its Silicon Valley bubble, at least with current functionality. While the app offers enjoyable audio content, it may lack the immersive experience necessary to captivate larger audiences.

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