Naval Ravikant's Airchat is a social app built around talk, not text | TechCrunch

Naval Ravikant's Airchat is a social app built around talk, not text | TechCrunch

Air chat There's a new social media app that encourages users to “just talk.”

Airchat had a previous version. Continued last year, but the team — led by Angellist founder Naval Ravikant and former Tinder product executive Brian Norgaard — rebuilt the app and relaunched it on iOS and Android yesterday. Currently invite-only, Airchat is already ranked #27 in Social Networking on Apple's App Store.

Visually, AirChat should feel quite familiar and intuitive, with the ability to follow other users, scroll through a feed of posts, then reply to, like and share those posts. The difference is that posts and replies are audio recordings, which the app then transcribes.

When you open AirChat, messages automatically start playing, and you cycle through them by quickly swiping up and down. If you're so inclined, you can actually mute the audio and just read the text. Users can also share photos and videos. But audio seems to be the focus, and Ravikanth describes it as replacing dynamic versus text-based social apps.

After joining AirChat this morning, most of the posts I saw were about the app itself, with Ravikant and Norgaard answering questions and asking for feedback.

“Humans are meant to socialize with other humans, it just requires a natural voice,” Ravikant said. “Online text-only media has given us the illusion that people can't connect, but in fact everyone can.”

This isn't the first time tech startups have bet on voice as the next big social media thing. But AirChat's asynchronous, threaded posts offer a very different experience than the live chat rooms that briefly flourished in clubhouse and Twitter spaces. Norgaard argued that this approach removes the stage fright barrier to participation, because “you can take as many passes as you want at writing a message here, and nobody knows.”

In fact, he said that in conversations with early users, the team found that “most people using AirChat today are very introverted and shy.”

Personally, I haven't convinced myself to post anything yet. I was more interested in seeing how other people were using the app—plus, I have a love-hate relationship with the sound of my own voice.

Still, there's something to be said for hearing Ravikant and Norgaard explain their vision, rather than reading transcripts, which can miss nuances of enthusiasm, tone, etc. Don't) in the audio.

I also struggle a bit with speed. The app defaults to 2x audio playback, which I thought was unnatural, especially if the whole idea was promoting human touch. You can reset the speed by holding down the pause button, but on the 1x, I find that I start skimming when listening to long posts, then usually skip ahead before I hear the full audio. . But maybe that's okay.

Screenshot of Naval Ravikant's comment stating that Airchat X is not a competitor.

Meanwhile, Ravi Kant's belief in the power of voice to mitigate harshness does not necessarily obviate the need for moderation of content. He said the feed is “underpinned by some complicated rules about hiding spam and trolls and people you or they don't want to hear from,” but as a publication he followed up on user feedback about content moderation. The question was not answered. .

Asked about monetization—that is, when we might start seeing ads, audio or otherwise—Ravikant said that “the company is under no pressure to monetize.” (He described himself as “a major investor” in the company, not “the only investor”.)

“I could care less about monetization,” he said. “We'd run this thing on a shoestring if we had to.”

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