The drop-in audio chat app Clubhouse appears to be testing a direct message feature called Backchannel, but you won’t find evidence of that, at least not anymore.
Last week users discovered the feature on the app before it was quietly removed. This was quite clearly an accident though. We say this because as you will see in the tweet below, Backchannel is barren with not even so much as a text box to type.
Wow looks like accidental update of @clubhouse enabled in app backchannel & switch of side bar & full experience.
Seems it’s rolled back now but from what I saw it was beautiful!!
— Brian Fanzo 🧢 Keynote Speaker $ADHD (@iSocialFanz) June 18, 2021
Being able to send a message to a Clubhouse presenter or just one of your friends seems like a basic feature but apparently it’s more complex than that.
In a town hall hosted by Clubhouse chief executive officer, Paul Davison this week, the CEO answered a question regarding DMs.
“I think this is a feature we should have in the app, you just have to be thoughtful about how you do it. Whenever we think about features we think about what medium is most appropriate for this use case, for this problem we’re trying to solve for people and how do we make sure that it enhances the experience rather than taking away from the experience,” said Davison.
The CEO says that it is important to build out a feature such as this properly and while that might seem like a simple thing it might not be as simple as you think. For example, Twitter has a decent direct message feature where you can restrict who is able to message you.
The big question we have is whether Clubhouse is adding features like this a bit too late in the game.
Drop in audio is currently the feature du jour of the moment with Twitter launching Spaces earlier this year and Facebook exploring a similar feature in Live Audio Rooms.
While Clubhouse has rolled out to Android devices, you do still need an invite to access the platform. That having been said, the platform did boast 10 million weekly active users in December so it must be doing something right.