Play it by the ear: With audio-based apps on the rise, mute button to rule future, say digital media experts

That is the reason why audio-based apps such as podcasts, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Soundbites by Facebook (work in progress) are catching everyone’s attention.

Published: 05th September 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2021 02:17 PM   |  A+A-

talking on phone, phone

For representational purposes

Not the swipe or the scroll, but it’s the mute button that will rule the future, say digital media experts. Why? Because audio-based apps are on the rise and for multiple reasons. Psychologists believe that for over 10 years now, we have been scrolling up and down, and swiping left and right. “Screen fatigue is real. In the last five years, thanks to Wi-fi streaming, a boom in social media apps and of course HD screens, we have been watching more than ever before.

We are looking at other ways to entertain ourselves and audio apps seem like a good alternative,” says Madhurya Reddy Mantha, a consultant psychologist with Manasa Mind Care Clinic in Hyderabad. In a study conducted online by The Harris Poll, commissioned by consumer cyber safety firm NortonLifeLock, among 1,000-plus Indian adults, eight out of 10 (82 percent) reported spending 4.4 hours a day in front of screens, outside of work or educational time.

That is the reason why audio-based apps such as podcasts, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, Soundbites by Facebook (work in progress) are catching everyone’s attention. Fidji Simo, Head of Facebook App, announced in the social media app’s blog that listening is more intimate and riveting. He even hinted at what to expect—audio quality enhancements, captions, speech translations, and superhuman hearing with the goal to make audio presence easy, natural, and immersive so you can fully experience social presence.

In fact, Deloitte Insights, the research/think tank wing of the software firm, predicts that the next time you settle down with a good book, you will reach for a set of headphones instead of an eReader. The audiobook is the future, is what they predict. In 2020, Deloitte predicted that the global audiobook market would grow by 25 percent to $3.5 billion. The forecast was that the global podcasting market would increase by 30 percent to reach $1.1 billion in 2020, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time.

Dr Niranjan Kulkarni, a retired professor from NIMHANS, Bengaluru, believes that with the advent of technology such as Bluetooth in cars and high quality, high definition Dolby style audio available even on basic smartphones, listening will take up time. “Already we find people listening, while they drive, cook, eat or exercise. Listening helps you multi-task compared to watching. That is the reason why apps are investing in audio apps,” says Kulkarni. Will the streaming networks soon be a mute witness to the rise of audio apps? Keep listening. 


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