UPDATED! Comparing Clubhouse with Twitter Spaces: A Chart Comparing the Features of the Two Leading Drop-In Audio Chat Social Apps for Mobile Devices

Clubhouse (photo by Erin Kwon on Unsplash)
Twitter Spaces (source)

I don’t know what lucky star I was born under, but as of very early this morning, Thursday, March 4th, 2021, I am now part of not one but two beta tests of competing drop-in audio chat apps: Clubhouse (which I have been on for a little over a week), and the newer Twitter Spaces, which I was invited to join today, after participating in my first-ever Twitter Spaces group chat that lasted into the wee hours of this morning!

This morning, I tried out my new abilities, setting up Twitter Spaces chatrooms to talk with various people one-on-one, like Michael Zhang, Kent Bye, Will Burns and Andy Fidel. With those chats, and last night’s group chat, under my belt, I now feel confident enough to compile a comparison chart between the two platforms.

Please note that the situation is evolving rapidly (for example, the press have reported that Twitter Spaces works for Android, but in trying to connect with an Android user, she reported that she received a message that it’s not available yet for Android). So this chart will age rapidly, and I will NOT be keeping it up to date; consider it just a current snapshot of the race between the two social audio companies! (And yes, you can bet your bottom dollar that Facebook is feverishly working on a competing drop-in audio chat app to dominate the nascent marketplace*.)

(I apologize for the somewhat messy dimensions of this table; I was unable to find an easy way to make the columns all the same size! I need to brush up on my HTML/CSS.)

Features/DetailsCLUBHOUSETWITTER SPACES
CompanyAlpha Exploration Company, founded in April 2020 by Rohan Seth and Paul Davison, funded by venture capitalist Andreessen HorowitzTwitter, founded by by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams in March 2006
Current Number of Users10 million users (and growing quickly!)Unknown number of users since its private beta launch in late December 2020, mostly iOS (Twitter itself has 330 million users)
Supported Mobile DevicesiOS onlyiOS only; the press has already reported that Android support has just launched, but I have had a least one report of an Android user who could not get in, and one report of someone who could, so…
Current Growth ModelInvite only (You have to have someone text you an invitation)Invite only (Twitter seems to be selecting the longest-standing accounts first)
Number of Rooms You Can CreateAs many as you like (three kinds: open, public/followers only, or closed/invite only)It appears to be just one, reusable room linked to your Twitter profile (you can retitle the room every time you spin it up, though)
Number of Clubs (Recurring Rooms) You Can CreateYou need to ask Clubhouse to set up a club for you, but soon they plan to launch the ability for you to create your own clubs There does not appear to be a regularly-scheduled room or club feature yet (but it’s early days!)
Number of People You Can Invite into a RoomSeems to have no upper limit (the Elon Musk interview room had over 6,000 people)UPDATE: It would appear you can invite as many Twitter users and lists of users as you like (thanks, Navah!). You can also send out a general invitation tweet to your Twitter feed, or generate a special link to post to places like Discord (I tested both and they do indeed work).
EmojisEncouraged in user profiles and searchable, but when you are in a room, and not speaking, you are limited to clicking your microphone button repeatedly (similar to clapping), or changing your user icon and PTR (Pull To Refresh) the screen.Yes (but the selection is limited to only 5 emojis). Of course, you can also use emojis in your Twitter profiles and tweets!
Direct MessagingNo (you must use Instagram or Twitter to send direct messages, although you could create a private room for just the two of you to chat)Yes, built-in from the start
CostThe platform is free to all users and doesn’t yet offer any kind of premium plan or method of charging users, nor is it ad-supported. They plan to monetize by adding ways for users to pay other users, which will provide an opportunity for Clubhouse to take a cut for its services.Free (Twitter makes its money through advertising and data licensing)

And if you want to ping me on either Clubhouse or Twitter, my handle on both is the same: @quiplash. Quiplash is short for “quipster whiplash”, because I am very well known for my snappy comebacks 😉 (and no, I am not named after the Quiplash game). Hit me up if you want to experience Twitter Spaces and perhaps we can schedule a group discussion, and I’d like to extend the same invitation for Clubhouse (if you can get an invite; I might be able to you out there, too, if you join my Patreon).

Feel free to give me a shout! (photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash)

UPDATE 4:13 p.m.: Well, I have been testing out Twitter Spaces with small groups of three to five people; thanks to Navah Berg and my European social VR blogger counterpart Niclas Johansson, and to Thomas for helping me test! (I’m sorry but given the problems I report below, I was unable to add Thomas as a friend, and I didn’t catch his last name.)

Unfortunately, this afternoon, the Twitter Spaces app performed horribly, muting my microphone at one point and forcing me to use the very limited set of 5 emojis to express myself (like some sad mime!), and at another point, slowing down to the point that it took me several painful minutes to search for a username, waiting 5-10 seconds for each and every key press to register, and then, not once but twice in a row, actually crashing me out of the app and causing my iPhone to lock up completely! I haven’t had that happen in a while… So, after four tries, I gave up.

So I would very strongly recommend that you wait a day or two before trying Twitter Spaces, even if you have been invited to participate as a host today. It seems to be buckling under the load, and in my opinion, it’s just not ready for prime time. Very buggy, very beta. (Sorry, Twitter!)

Navah, who says she had been on Spaces for a couple of weeks now and that she prefers Twitter Spaces to Clubhouse, told us that her pervious days’ performance was much better, and she suggested that all these serious problems are happening to us today because Twitter launched Spaces for Android users today, and they are getting hammered with Android device traffic (which makes sense to me).

UPDATE 8:31 p.m.: Well, things are looking up! Navah is hosting a Twitter Space this evening with approximately 55 people present, with only occasional audio issues. One of the features I do quite like about Twitter Spaces is the ability for someone either (host or speaker) to share a tweet with everybody in the room. Somebody posted a copy of my tweet of this blogpost to tonight’s meeting!

UPDATE 8:43 p.m.: Aaaand the room crashed again! Back to the drawing board, Twitter…

*UPDATE March 6th, 2021: Well, surprise, surprise… word has leaked out that Facebook is working on adding audio chat rooms to Instagram:

Here’s a link to the tweet and resulting comment thread if you’re interested.

New! Sansar Launches Mobile Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android Devices

While reading through all the ways that you could watch and listen to the Lost Horizon virtual music festival in Sansar, I learned that there are now mobile apps, for both iOS and Android devices!

Here’s a link to the iPhone and iPad apps on the Apple App Store, and here is the link to the app on the Google Play App Store.

Once again, the branding is squarely on attending live events in Sansar. The events listing includes this weekend’s Lost Horizon Festival, plus a number of other live music events taking place later on this month, such as Monstercat: Call of the Wild. Because it would appear that Wookey staff need to place cameras in place before the event, not every event from the Sansar Events Calendar is available to view using these new mobile apps (perhaps Wookey charges clients extra for this service?).

The only stage I could visit on the iPhone app was the Gas Tower stage, and the only views I could get were a direct view of the DJ on stage, or a birds-eye view of the event, seeing the avatars of the people who were there in person as tiny figures below me:

The sound quality was not great, and I was unable to visit any of the other music stages. The first set of reviewers on the App Store were not that impressed:

However, it is still a significant step for Wookey-run Sansar to have mobile apps, which dramatically opens the door to a much broader potential audience. I’m also quite sure that they are using these new apps as part of their product pitch to other music industry executives, to offer more live music performers in future! Let’s hope that this new feature will help to reel in a few new customers and events.

A First Look at Rec Room on iOS

VBunny Go is a VR game vlogger and Twitch livestreamer who was one of the beta testers of the iOS version of the social VR platform Rec Room, and she has posted a video of her experience to YouTube (I can’t embed it in this blogpost, but I can link to it).

VBunny Go is quite an entertaining and enthusiastic commentator, as she puts Rec Room through its paces (including playing several levels of a dungeon quest as part of a team). She finds that most of Rec Room’s functionality is still present, despite playing the game on an iPhone.

I need to get a setup like hers, so I can start doing my own in-world videos! She’s a good example of someone who is slowly building a YouTube audience with her videos of her VR gaming adventures.

Another enthusiastic early tester posted on the Rec Room subReddit:

As a VR only player, I’ve been excited to be able to try the mobile version and see what everyone is ready to complain about. And since today I was invited, I hurriedly downloaded it to finally witness the horror of mobile gaming. And guess what? It’s good. The game runs beautifully and looks absolutely gorgeous. The UI and UX is intuitive and snappy. The controls just make sense. I was literally jealous of the mobile menus compared to the VR version. It’s a smooth, polished ride with all of the content at the ready. It’s GOOD. And you all are going to love it.

This marks a significant shift in the social VR/virtual world market: support for mobile devices. Linden Lab is also working on an official mobile client for Second Life (no word on when that will be released), and of course there have been other mobile SL clients such as Lumiya for Android devices. There’s also a beta Android client for High Fidelity.

Rec Room Is Coming Soon to the iPhone and iPad, Plans to Create an In-Game Economy for Content Creators

Road to VR and UploadVR both report that the popular social VR platform Rec Room is expanding to both the iPhone and iPad. If you wish to be an iOS beta tester, you can sign up here.

Rec Room also has plans to create an in-game economy where content creators can get paid. UploadVR reports:

Against Gravity has big plans for Rec Room with the goal that “someone in school with no coding knowledge can build a game in an afternoon and ship it on console, PC, mobile, and VR. We’re already seeing this happen, but we think the ability to instantly build and publish a game gets a lot more interesting when you open up the audience to anyone with a mobile device.”

In addition to cross-platform creation tools, the company is also looking into ways for creators to get paid for their works in Rec Room.

“We’re looking into letting creators charge in-app tokens for inventions they created, costumes, events, and for different things they can build into their games and rooms,” according to the company.

Rec Room is going into some interesting directions!