A few months ago, Twitter rolled out a somewhat whimsical new feature that allowed users to attach voice messages to Tweets just like they would videos. It was meant to give a more human touch to Tweets for those moments when even emojis just aren’t enough to convey the sender’s feelings. Ironically, it also alienated a large group of Twitter’s users and exposed one flawed aspect of the social media giant that it is now aiming to correct in future iterations of Voice Tweets.
Twitter has just expanded its voice tweets feature, which lets you record a snippet of audio to include with a tweet, to more users on iOS. 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.
If you want to get an idea of how voice tweets work right now, just press play on the below tweet to hear a voice clip from my colleague Tom Warren. There’s currently no way to see captions or a transcription of what he’s saying. (Note: Tom is not actually sharing exclusive next-gen console news.)
Without any way to see a transcription, voice tweets were quickly criticized for not being accessible. Then it came to light that there wasn’t a dedicated team at Twitter for accessibility — instead, the company asked employees to volunteer their time on top of their usual work to focus on accessibility. That all meant that one day after voice tweets were announced, the company told The Verge it was exploring how to make a “more dedicated group” focused on accessibility.
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.