Facebook has added to the growing lists of platforms now offering social audio services. The social media giant on Monday announced “Live Audio Rooms;” a podcast service that aims to compete with Clubhouse and the likes.
“The audio market is fundamentally very fragmented. Every single platform is doing something specific, either the live audio component or the podcast component,” said Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s app, per USA TODAY in an exclusive interview. “Facebook, however, is approaching audio as all of the formats working together.”
Facebook’s new Live Audio Rooms are now available to a handful of people in the US. Facebook is starting with public figures, creators, and groups for now, while the service is expected to be made available to a wider audience in the coming months.
A handful of people in the US will be able to listen to select podcasts, while more will be made available in the coming weeks. The social media giant is also building new audio tools for creators to develop and launch “Soundbites,” or short-form audio clips that will be rolled out before the end of the year.
The first live test of Audio Rooms kicked off a couple of days ago. In attendance were several Facebook executives including Fidji Simo, and Andrew Bosworth Facebook VP of reality Labs.
In other Facebook news, the social media giant is stepping it up with plans to launch its first smartwatch. Though, official release date has not been confirmed, the social media giant is reportedly planning to roll out the smartwatch in the summer of 2022.
Among other features, the smartwatch will have two cameras, heart rate monitor, Instagram, and a host of other apps. Videos taken with the detachable cameras can be shared across Facebook, Instagram and other apps owned by the social media giant.
Per The Verge, Facebook has added a camera in front of the watch basically for video calling, while a 1080p auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. As confirmed by two people familiar with the story, Facebook is also tapping other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to things like backpacks.
The smartwatch is not Facebook’s first venture into hardware manufacturing. The social media giant had in the past launched a couple of other products. That said, the smartwatch is the company’s first attempt at making a wrist hardware, which could open up another area of competition with companies like Apple and Samsung.