With its latest experimental app ‘Hotline,’ Facebook has entered the trend of Clubhouse-like products. Facebook’s experimental app team, NPE, has introduced a Clubhouse-style Q&A platform with live-streaming support. According to TechCrunch, Facebook has been spotted testing new features like Clubhouse, but Hotline would be different.
The success of Clubhouse, a year-old invite-only app with 10 million weekly active users, has shown the potential of audio chat services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter has been experimenting with its audio function Spaces, and Facebook is also experimenting with a live audio room offering inside Messenger Rooms. Hotline is a result of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, which is charged with creating small social media applications from the ground up.
Hotline by Facebook is similar to Clubhouse in terms of functionality, but it varies in that it enables hosts to use video as well. Hosts may also arrange Q&A sessions, which are more formal than Clubhouse’s relaxed atmosphere. Hosts will record their sessions on Hotline, as well as other video conferencing platforms, in both audio and video formats.
Hotline’s main feature and how the platform works is Q&A. The host receives text questions, which they respond to during the sessions. The audience responds with emojis and upvotes questions that they want the host to answer. Although it’s more of a host and audience situation, one interesting feature will be for the host to invite audience members to ask questions live. The host has the most power in Clubhouse, but Hotline appears to be entirely dependent on the host. As a result, Clubhouse provides a forum for group sessions with the opportunity for listeners to join.
Hotline is not currently available as a standalone app, and Facebook has stated that it is testing various authentication methods so that users can join events via Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram, or by providing phone numbers.