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(Pocket-lint) - Twitter burst open the gate to character limits on tweets in June 2020. No, you still can't post essays - text ones, anyway. But, you can record an audio message and attach it to your tweet. There are some caveats, naturally. Here's what you need to know about Twitter voice tweets and how they work.

What are voice tweets?

Voice tweets, or tweets with audio, are a composing feature available on the Twitter iOS app. They're a more creative way to express your thoughts, without having to manually type it all out or be constrained by a character limit. "Sometimes 280 characters aren't enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation," Twitter said at the time of the voice tweets launch.

The idea of voice tweets was to offer a "more human touch" to how we use Twitter, by making it possible to express yourself with your actual voice. Voice tweets could also be considered an accessibility feature for the blind or others who find it difficult to either see or type tweets the standard way. On the other hand, when voice tweets first rolled out, they were criticized for not having captions for users who are hearing impaired. So, in July 2021, Twitter fixed that, by rolling out captions that are automatically generated in supported languages.

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How do you use voice tweets

Here's how Twitter's voice tweets work and how to get yourself started so you can send a tweet with a recording of your voice to your followers.

Create a voice tweet

If you want to create a voice tweet, you need to look for the waveform icon when composing a new tweet.

Tap the waveform icon and hit the record button that shows up to start recording. Each voice tweet captures up to 140 seconds of audio. Once you reach the time limit for a tweet, a new voice tweet will automatically start and create a tweet thread for you to post. You can attach voice tweets to regular tweets, which basically means you can give your audio message a text caption.

But voice tweets can only be added to original tweets. In other words, you can't include them in replies or retweets with a comment.

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Listen to a voice tweet

You will be able to easily spot a voice tweet in your feed, as it shows up as an audio clip with the sharer's profile picture as the background. "Your current profile photo will be added as a static image on your audio attachment and will not refresh if you update your profile photo," Twitter said when the feature launched. You can listen to voice tweets by tapping the play button.

On your iOS device, a player dock will appear so you can listen to voice tweets in the background, continue scrolling through your feed, and switch apps.

Voice tweet examples

You can see an example of a voice tweet here:

How do voice tweet captions work?

When you make a voice tweet, captions will be automatically generated in the following supported languages:

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  • English
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Turkish
  • Arabic
  • Hindi
  • French
  • Indonesian
  • Korean
  • Italian

The feature uses your device’s language settings for the transcription, so the feature won’t work right if your device is set to one language but you speak in another. To see the captions on a tweet, click or tap the CC icon in the corner of the voice tweet window. Captions only appear on new voice tweets, so you won’t see them on older ones.

When will voice tweets be available to all?

Twitter launched voice tweets on 17 June 2020 for "a limited group of people" who use the Twitter app on iPhone. They've extended to more iOS users since, but not yet for Android users.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 17 June 2020.