Tuesday Tune-Up #480

Nick Carolan

Facebook’s Clubhouse competitor is on its way
We’ve been keeping our eyes (and ears) open for audio offerings from Facebook, and now the wait is (almost) over, as the platform has announced at least three audio features set to launch in coming months. So what have we got to look forward to? Firstly, Soundbites, which is a new format for creative, short-form audio, allowing you to change your sound via filters and other effects. Podcasts are also a promising offer from the channel, partnering with Spotify to bring long-form audio to the app. And finally, Clubhouse-style audio rooms will be making an appearance, with participants able to tip creators with Facebook’s digital currency, Stars. With a timeline of three to six months until the launch of these features, it’s time to invest in a good set of headphones.

New iOS update prompts Apple users to opt out of tracking
Apple has released the latest version of its operating system, iOS 14.5, and for once, new emoji updates aren’t the headline feature. Users will now receive a direct pop-up prompt asking them to opt out of tracking in apps that monitor their behaviour and share that data with third parties in order to better target ads. The new privacy tool, called App Tracking Transparency, will appear when you open an app that tracks you, giving users more control over their app data and how it’s used by tech giants like Google and Facebook, who’ve been waging long-running campaigns to discredit the privacy update.

Instagram is testing ads in Reels
In a surprise to no-one, ads are coming to Instagram Reels. The ads can be up to 30 seconds and will appear similar to the ones you see in Stories. However, in Reels, people can comment, like, view, save, share and skip ads. Sticker ads are also rolling out across the platform via select advertisers and creators. The stickers will allow creators to get a cut of advertising revenue, with more organic product placement a departure from more obvious brand shoutouts seen across Instagram.

Instagram launches tools to filter out abusive DMs
Instagram is introducing a new way for people to shield themselves from harassment on the platform. A new tool allows users to filter out any messages that contain offensive terms, phrases or emojis, targeting DMs from accounts that a user does not already follow. You’ll also have the chance to curate your own personalised list of terms of emojis that you don’t want to allow in your DM requests.

Twitter adds backgrounds for Fleets on iOS
Twitter is looking to make Fleets more appealing. In its latest update, you can now add backgrounds to Fleets, whether that’s colours, videos or photos. Now, when you go to compose a Fleet, you’ll be able to tap on the camera to access your photos, from which you’ll be able to select an image or video for your Fleet background.

You can now tweet pictures in 4K on Twitter
When it comes to images, Twitter has been lingering on the low-res side when it comes to mobile. Now the platform is letting all users tweet and view pictures in 4K on iOS and Android. Twitter’s web app already supports high-res images, but the mobile app has been trailing behind, with resolution limited to half that of the web version.

Oculus rolls out new avatars
Oculus avatars have had a fresh lick of paint, offering more customisable options to allow for a more expressive end result. The new avatar editor has countless combinations of hair, eyes, body type, facial hair, and other features. However, there’s no gender toggle, with the editor instead allowing you to tweak each facial feature, down to each wrinkle. Initially rolling out in just a few games, Oculus will eventually open its new avatar SDK to all developers.

Oculus avatar editor

Facebook is making it easier to export text posts
Facebook is now allowing users to archive their posts and transfer a copy of the data onto Google Docs, WordPress, or Blogger, making it easier to transfer and save specific posts or notes that have been created through the platform. You can access the tool by opening Facebook settings, clicking on ‘Your Facebook Information,’ then selecting ‘Transfer a Copy of Your Information.’

Social platforms mark the 93rd Academy Awards
In light of a dramatically different Oscars, social platforms came out in force yesterday to bring the event to life across their platforms. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences teamed up with Facebook for the occasion, delivering interactive, real-time virtual experiences across multiple platforms. Vanity Fair and Instagram collaborated to have photographer Quil Lemons capture portrait photos and Reels of nominees, presenters and winners, whilst a live Messenger Room on Facebook gave fans access to live interviews with winners fresh off the stage.

Clubhouse inks exclusive content deal with the NFL
Clubhouse has signed an exclusive content deal with the NFL in time for Draft Week – the first of its kind for the audio-only platform, which remains invitation-only. Fans will be able to drop in on the NFL’s rooms to follow picks as they’re announced, and listen in on discussions featuring key NFL figures. Fans also have the opportunity to join the conversation and be invited on stage by moderators to ask questions or share their reactions to the Draft.

Ones to watch
Facebook launches tests to inform future changes to its News Feed algorithms and tests topic targeting for in-stream video ads. Twitter launches test of ‘professional profiles’ for brands and creators.

The Tuesday Tune-Up features additional reporting by Hannah Currey.