X, the platform formerly known as Twitter under new ownership by Elon Musk, has begun rolling out audio and video calling capabilities to Android users. The new feature brings X into closer competition with platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime which already offer voice and video chatting.
X has offered direct messaging capabilities between users for years. However, voice and video calling has up until now been limited to a small test group on iOS. Rumors of an Android rollout have circulated for months, and X CEO Elon Musk hinted at an upcoming announcement in recent tweets:
“X product roadmap update coming soon! Audio, video, payments, etc.”
“Android could really use voice & video chat on X hint hint”
The additional capabilities stand to vastly increase engagement among X’s over 300 million active users, while potentially drawing in new users from competitor platforms.
On January 18th, 2024, X began gradually enabling the new features to Android users in North America. The launch came alongside X’s 6.0 app update pushed out via the Google Play Store.
Availability of voice and video chat in the updated Android app follows several months after the initial iOS test launch. X has stated that the rollout will continue over the coming weeks until complete global availability is achieved.
|Estimated Enable Date
|January 18, 2024
|January 25, 2024
|February 1, 2024
|Rest of World
|February 15, 2024
Using Voice and Video Chat
To start a voice or video call, Android users can tap the phone or video icon from an existing DM conversation. Up to 8 participants can join group voice chats.
For one-on-one conversations, both parties will need to consent before the call connects. Video calling is currently limited to mobile and tablets only with no desktop support.
X expects demand to be extremely high initially which could impact connectivity. The company has prepared extra server capacity but warns users may still experience delays during the launch period.
X currently makes the majority of its revenue from advertisements. However, new premium features like audio/video chat present additional monetization avenues – a key priority for CEO Elon Musk.
Potential opportunities include:
- Paid “pro” accounts with more participants allowed on group calls
- Stickers and filters for video chats
- Voicemail & transcription services for Android Business accounts
- Commissions on X-enabled payments processing
X has not announced pricing but hints that additional capabilities enabled by the calls such as recording, scheduling, and live streaming could carry a monthly subscription cost.
Impact on User Experience
Over the past 3 years, X has focused intently on making conversations on the platform easier and more powerful. Direct messaging saw significant upgrades during this period, including larger group sizes, typing indicators, reactions, chat themes, and more.
Voice and especially video chat represents the next evolution in X’s messaging suite. Users can now communicate emotion and nuance over both mediums in real-time.
Key benefits enabled by the addition of calls include:
- Personal connection – chat feels more human when you can see and hear someone live
- Reduced miscommunications – voice tone and facial expressions reduce ambiguity
- Ease of use – tapping an icon to call is simpler than typing back and forth
- Viral content – stream live video to all your followers right from the app
Competition with Other Platforms
X was arguably lagging behind other social media giants in providing voice and video chat. WhatsApp has offered calling since 2016 alongside Facebook Messenger. Apple’s FaceTime launched all the way back in 2011.
However, X’s broad reach positions it extremely well versus other options. It fills a gap between private closed networks like iMessage and large open platforms similar to its own.
X comes pre-loaded with strong network effects – you likely already follow your closest friends and family. Competitors will have difficulty convincing users to install and exclusively use their apps.
What’s Next for X
The Android voice/video rollout caps a monumental first few months under Elon Musk’s stewardship. Along with new features, the company has focused intently on increasing transparency and public trust.
However, monumental challenges remain. Advertiser unrest, candidate misinformation during 2024 election season, and the privatization process itself still weigh heavily. Government regulatory pressure continues increasing as well.
With core capabilities now modernized across both mobile platforms, attention shifts to X’s outdated desktop interface. Mentions of upgrades by Elon Musk indicate another major update could arrive as early as mid-2024.
Video calling from desktop browsers poses massive technical hurdles though. Significant infrastructure investments would likely be required first. Until then, the company seems content improving performance and stability of its core mobile apps.
The rollout of voice and video calls represents a milestone in X’s efforts to make online communication more seamless. Android users can now enjoy the same capabilities iOS users have had for months.
Adoption is expected to steadily climb as more regions gain access over the coming weeks. Whether entirely new demographics begin migrating to X has yet to be seen.
X now enters a hyper-competitive environment, doing battle with social media juggernauts and closed ecosystems alike. However, its brand recognition and network effects provide a strong starting point. Succeeding will require maintaining simplicity while rapidly accelerating innovation even further.
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