Clubhouse is the social network everyone is talking about right now. Literally. In this audio-focused app, you join groups to listen to live conversations – and have your say too. It’s the perfect antidote for the Zoom fatigue and Twitter doom-scrolling we’re all suffering from.
But Clubhouse is also one of the hardest social networks to join. You have to be invited by another user. This is because the app is still in beta, meaning it’s not quite ready.
If it was completely open to the public, the surge in users that would come with a celebrity appearance – as Elon Musk, Oprah and Chris Rock have done – could crash its servers.
Despite this, the app’s been downloaded eight million times worldwide. But none of these were on an Android device. As well as being invite-only, the app is iPhone-only.
When is Clubhouse coming to Android?
Back in January, Clubhouse confirmed an Android app is in the works. But there are a lot more Android users than iPhone ones. That means the chance of overloading the social network is even higher. So the social network is having to put a lot more infrastructure in place to keep up with demand, which takes time.
Meanwhile, Clubhouse hype means that the Play Store looks like this. But you don’t have to settle for knock-offs. There are exciting Android apps that can scratch your ‘social audio’ itch while offering something new too. Here are our favorites.
Twitter is no longer just for tweets. The microblogging site is testing what it calls Twitter Spaces. A direct rival to Clubhouse, this new feature works in much the same way: users can create a voice chat room, which allows them to invite others and talk around a topic. And the Android beta is out now.
As is to be expected, not all of the functionality is there yet. While anyone can listen to and join in a conversation when they see a purple icon appear in the fleets bar, only a select few users can host a Space. And at the time of writing, those using the Android beta can’t even do that.
Only the iPhone users can set the conversation. But for early adopters eager to try something new, this is a great way to get a feel for social audio. While getting in on the ground floor of a network that’ll have not just millions, but hundreds of millions more users to chat with than Clubhouse if and when Spaces rolls out to everyone.
Clubhouse started as a way for Silicon Valley types to talk tech and has become more fun as it’s developed. Meanwhile, Stereo feels like it was designed to entertain from the outset. It also lets you host or tune into live conversations, with the option for listeners to chime in. But it encourages hosts to be as entertaining as possible with a weekly cash prize of up to $20,000 for the best show.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that there are thousands of shows to choose from, covering everything from news and sport to comedy. Fortunately, the app has really good search features, allowing you to filter by topic as well as personalities. And unlike Clubhouse, Stereo lets you listen back to previous episodes and even tells you when users are next scheduled to speak, so you don’t miss out.
In many ways, Cappuccino is the anti-Clubhouse. Rather than talking at length to a live audience worldwide, it’s designed to share audio clips with friends and family. But if you love the sound of Clubhouse’s intimate atmosphere, this might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Each morning, Cappuccino serves up messages – which it calls ‘beans’ – recorded by you and other group members over the last 24 hours. While this risks sounding like a string of answerphone messages, the app adds intro music so it feels more like a podcast featuring people you know. Plus, you can create as many groups as you like, featuring different people or to discuss different topics. Whether that’s talking about your day, telling jokes or discussing your favorite shows.
Clubhouse is often described as being like listening to a podcast while it’s still being recorded. If that appeals, Anchor might be for you. Launching back in 2015, this app was well ahead of the current social audio trend. Then it was snapped up by Spotify two years ago, which has taken it to another level.
It’s now more geared towards podcasting for beginners, with simple tools to record and edit shows, arrange them into episodes and share them online. But the sense of community has completely gone away.
You can record remotely with up to five friends. And collect voice messages from your listeners that you can then incorporate into your show. While a built-in Discover feature makes it easy to explore more than a million shows from other users.
The Snapchat of social audio, BRB lets you send and receive 30-second snippets. An audio message is quicker and easier than texting while also more convenient than calling, as you can pick up and respond to BRB when it suits you. But it’s also no different to sending voice notes in WhatsApp, which has the added advantage of a lot more people already using it. Though it does have a much slicker UI and a Discover feature makes it easy to connect with new users if you’re short of people to talk to.
BRB is pitching itself as a way for Gen Z to stay in touch – going so far as to market itself as the ‘cafeteria for AirPods’. But if you’re a bit older or what appealed to you about Clubhouse is that it’s very business orientated, BRB also has a big brother: Yak. It’s designed for people working remotely to stay in touch with colleagues without having to worry about what they look like on a video call.