Clubhouse — which inadvertently sent every other tech platform from Spotify to Facebook scrambling to build out copycat functionality — seems to be taking its first steps away from pure live audio experiences. How do we know this? The company appears to have accidentally leaked a messaging feature, called Backchannel, to some users late last week.
Based on several tweets circulating on Friday (including the below screen recording), Backchannel is an apparent means for users to chat via text instead of audio. Apparently the feature was not referenced whatsoever in the app’s release notes of the version, and what was rolled out looks blatantly unfinished. It’s not clear how long this version of Backchannel existed out in the wild, but Clubhouse seemingly removed it in a hurry.
Wow looks like accidental update of @clubhouse enabled in app backchannel & switch of side bar & full experience.
Seems it’s rolled back now but from what I saw it was beautiful!!
On stage > move to hallway > hit arrow > back channel popped up! @jowyang @GaryLHenderson pic.twitter.com/5bJfVlg7t5— Brian Fanzo Keynote Speaker $ADHD (@iSocialFanz) June 18, 2021
Reached for comment, a company spokesperson would only tell The Verge that, “as part of our product building process, Clubhouse regularly explores and tests potential features. These functions sometimes become part of the app, sometimes they don’t. We do not comment on potential features.” They said Clubhouse founders sometimes discuss the product roadmap during weekly Sunday Town Halls.
It’s unclear the scale of the rollout because, again, the feature seemed to only be public for a brief window of time, making it hard to gauge if it was merely spotted by a few users who happened to have the app open at the time, or if it was only intended to go out as a limited beta. In either case, naming a feature Backchannel and then very unsubtly dumping it in the lap of the entire world? That’s comedy, folks.