05 April 2021
Facebook's experimental app development division NPE Team has released its newest offering. It is called Hotline and is an audio-focused Q&A platform that seems to be inspired by Clubhouse, the coolest kid on the social media block. It is currently a web-only platform with mobile applications reported to be under development.
The idea behind Hotline is to let a user create a session where he will be the host and others will be able to join. All other members will be free to ask questions to get answers or simply become a "watcher". The questions can be asked in audio and text formats depending upon the preference. Even though the audio is an important part of the platform, it also supports video streaming which is one of the things that differentiate it from Clubhouse.
Video for the host and all users will be disabled by default and if someone wishes to be on a video stream, they will need to enable it manually through a toggle at their end. Everyone in the room will be represented by a circular avatar when the audio mode is on and with the video feed if the video streaming is turned on. There are no restrictions on the number of users that can join a room for the time being.
In terms of interface, it is pretty simple and easy to understand even for newbies. The whole window is divided into two sides where the left side shows the profile avatar/video feed of the host. The right side has a "chat" section where you will see questions asked by other users along with an area for sending your own questions. A user can choose to upvote or downvote questions so that the host can notice important questions. There are also various reactions that you can send.
Facebook Hotline is currently in a public-testing stage and is available in limited regions. You can check the official website to see if it works for you. If yes, you will be able to sign in using your Twitter account and event create rooms. Even though it is very similar to Clubhouse, it is not the competitor of the company that we have reported about in the last few weeks. That particular clone is still under development and we will let you know once it becomes available publically.