I Tried Airchat, Silicon Valley’s Trendy Social Media App

The new social media app, Airchat, which has attracted high-profile users and investors from OpenAI’s Sam Altman to Accomplice VC’s Jeff Fagnan, is currently a calm departure from the usual cacophony of chatter on social media — even as it puts users’ voices front and center.

Airchat first launched in mid-2023 and is still invitation-only. Bloomberg reported this week that invites have been heavily circulating in Silicon Valley recently after the app relaunched this month. More than 30,000 of Airchat’s 45,000 downloads occurred this month, per the publication.

Entrepreneur secured an invite and tested the app to see if it was worth the hype.

If your eyes glaze over at long social media posts, and you find yourself overstimulated by endless videos, Airchat is a happy medium.

Anyone who has scrolled through Facebook or Threads can figure out Airchat quickly. The app combines the standard newsfeed format with audio notes straight from users. Users speak into the app, they don’t have the option to type posts, and as their followers scroll through their feeds, they hear the voice in addition to seeing the AI-generated transcript.

If a user wants to comment on a post, they record an audio of their thoughts as well. The whole app is a series of ongoing conversations.

Airchat feed of audio recordings and AI-transcribed posts. Credit: Entrepreneur

Airchat’s concept is to allow users to tune into conversations happening right now, not to catch up on what they’ve missed.

“I want a house party in my pocket,” Airchat co-founder Naval Ravikant told Bloomberg. “I want to be able to pull out this phone and talk to someone interesting and delightful and witty anytime I want.”

Related: OpenAI Is Holding Back the Release of Its New AI Voice Generator

What Works

When I scrolled through my Airchat feed, I found that the presence of other peoples’ voices captured my attention, but in a way that was less abrupt than a TikTok video or YouTube Short. I was also more present than if I had been scrolling through text-heavy posts on Facebook.

That said, there is an option to upload videos that I didn’t see anyone using. It was an audio-centered platform.

I could either press the play button at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and have the newsfeed play all of the audio clips of people I followed, or manually scroll through and find the clips that interested me the most.

If your eyes glaze over at long social media posts, and you find yourself overstimulated by endless videos, Airchat is a happy medium.

Influencers aren’t the focus of the app, with Ravikant saying that the app is more of a social messenger like WhatsApp or WeChat than an influencer platform.

The two founders, Ravikant and former Tinder exec Brian Norgard were both active on Airchat.

Post by Ravikant. Credit: Entrepreneur

Post by Norgard. Credit: Entrepreneur

My overall impression was that the app was both intensely personal and thoughtful in a way that mainstream social media apps aren’t at the moment.

When comparing Airchat to Twitter, now X, Ravikant summed it up perfectly in an Airchat audio. He said that Twitter was once his preferred social media until he saw hundreds of people rephrase what he said in different ways.

“Or I would see people copying the same content a year later or two years later,” he continued. “And you kind of want to say, really? Let’s talk in person. Get in the ring… And that’s what I think this app does. It really allows the people who are incredibly witty to really shine. Or the people who are incredibly empathetic.”

Hearing Ravikant speak added a human element to the app. As social media contends with bots, having that touch of authenticity with tone is important.

Unlike competing social audio app Clubhouse, Airchat isn’t about having live conversations, it’s about having ongoing ones that play out over time with no pressure to respond right away. Clubhouse’s mission of friends over followers seems to be one that Airchat abides by too, but the user experience for both apps is different.

What Could Use Improvement

Since synthetic voices are already being used in scams, it could undermine the genuineness of Airchat if users employ it.

Related: I Tried 3 AI Headshot Generators and There Was a Clear Winner

One thing I noticed that could be improved was that even when I exited the app, the audio feed kept playing in the background. Locking my phone didn’t pause the audio either. I’m thinking about the success of white noise podcasts and channels on Spotify and the possibilities on Airchat for the same sort of thing, even in a smaller community.

Why I’ll Use Airchat Again

I’m most enthusiastic about Airchat prioritizing human connection and voice in social media — and doing so asynchronously, which allows users to drop in on conversations. The quality-over-quantity approach that Airchat’s co-founders are taking bodes well for the app’s overall quality.

Everyone was behaving like they were at a dinner party.

Another possible use of the Airchat app could be to make new friends or even date.

The content was also well-moderated and thoughtful; there was nothing inappropriate on my feed. Everyone was behaving like they were at a dinner party, which made me wonder if it was the audio format of the app that added an extra layer of civility to discussions, or if the app’s relatively small, invitation-only user base created the atmosphere.

I closed the Airchat app feeling more in touch with the world, not more disconnected from it, which is how I usually feel after browsing through major social media. The app is easy to use and the original discussions happening on the app between real people spoke to its quality.

I’m thinking about what to say when I use it again.

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