Twitter turns into a podcast app

Twitter is officially on the way to podcasts. The app will launch a test version of Twitter Spaces today that includes podcasts, letting you listen to the full show through a playlist curated based on your interests.

The redesigned Spaces tab opens with Stations, a topic-based playlist that combines podcast episodes pulled from RSS with Twitter social audio shows and recordings. It works like a Pandora station but for the spoken word and is very different from the a la carte listening podcasts consumers are used to on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Live and upcoming spaces are still in tabs, at the bottom of the page. The test will be rolled out to a random group of users worldwide, initially only in English.

Twitter podcast interface on iPhone.
Image: Twitter

The more users listen, the more customized the audio station will be. But Twitter didn’t start from scratch — the company relied on what it already knew about its users’ interests to compile playlists. It will draw from the interest of the people they follow as well. “What we’re really trying to capture here is it’s as if another user is recommending something to you,” said Twitter senior product manager Evan Jones, who focuses on audio. Hot Pods.

Podcast discovery is notoriously difficult, limited to the top 100 charts, handpicked selections in apps, or — more often than not — word of mouth. No platform has managed to solve it yet.

It’s easy to imagine the promotional possibilities around the ability to share and listen to podcasts in the same app, but that’s not enough. Tests don’t yet have clipping capabilities, and listening can only be done in the Spaces tab, not in the timeline. Because of this, Spaces has a clipping feature that can be applied to podcasts at some point.

One of Twitter’s new Stations, featuring podcasts and social audio.
Image: Twitter

Twitter and podcasts can be useful options. Twitter Spaces, which launched in 2020 After the success of Clubhouse’s pandemic, this app has given its footing in audio. Jones says that, based on company data, 45 percent of Twitter users are also monthly podcast listeners (given how news-oriented Twitter is, that makes a lot of sense). Meanwhile, data discovered by tech detective earlier this year revealed that Twitter was experimenting with podcast tabs.

That turned out to be partly true. “We’re testing different ideas,” Jones said. “While we were cutting rocks, we came to this, but podcasts will always be a part of Spaces.”

Jones wouldn’t say when users could expect an official rollout, but he said the final version of the feature would be affected by how people respond to the tests. If you are one of the selected guinea pigs, feel free to tell me about your experience!

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