Is AirChat The Next Big Thing or Will it go The Clubhouse Way?


A new social media app called AirChat is the latest viral sensation. The focus is on the voice-first approach, which is not a novel idea in 2024. AirChat allows users to post voice notes instead of text or multimedia. It also transcribes the audio into text so other users can hear and read your posts. And if you are feeling a certain Déjà vu reading about this, you’re not wrong. After all, Clubhouse—which went viral in 2020—was based on a similar concept.

While the concept sounds unique in the crowded and saturated world of social media apps, AirChat’s priority on voice looks like a difficult model to sustain. So, can this new app strengthen its position among Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and other giants? Let’s discuss.

What is AirChat, And What Does it Offer?

AirChat’s founders are Naval Ravikant, a renowned digital entrepreneur, and Brian Norgard, a former executive of Tinder. The app aims to serve as a platform where users can freely express themselves without any pressure of aggressive content moderation. It wants to connect users subtly while skipping the showoff part of the online world.

Opening the AirChat app gives a sense of familiarity, as the user interface is strikingly similar to X (formerly Twitter). You have a home feed where you see (and hear) posts from people you follow, a search tab, a notification panel, and a direct messaging section.

user interface of airchat
AirChat app UI

AirChat asks users to record their voice, which can be posted on the platform with a text transcription. AirChat requires users to speak in the app directly; it tends to capture more natural and realistic expressions from the user. The like and repost icons also appear inspired by X. The app may feel like a custom Twitter client capable of reading tweets aloud.

The overall experience of AirChat feels refreshing, as listening to someone’s voice hits uniquely. However, in some cases, you may also feel a little creeped out if you hear multiple posts on a spree, as you may perceive it as if you are spying on a private conversation between two or more people.

AirChat’s Controversial Invite System

Although AirChat is available on the Google Play Store and the App Store, it uses an invite system. If you wish to join the app, you need to be manually invited by someone who already uses it. The platform had temporarily paused accepting new users but shortly resumed.

Naval also made a controversial statement when he asked people to only invite ‘high-quality’ people to the app. While this sounds like an optimistic move to prevent spam, it diminishes the platform’s ‘social’ aspect. Hence, his statement was not received well by all users.

naval airchat
Naval’s post on AirChat on inviting new users to the platform

AirChat is also notoriously gatekeeping Android users. The app only allows iOS users to invite new people to the platform. Android users currently cannot send invitations to new people. Not good, AirChat!

There’s also a privacy concern. AirChat directly sends invites over SMS from your registered personal number. So, if you invite an unknown person, your number gets shared, too. It looks as if this system is deliberately designed so that users only invite trusted contacts on the platform.

AirChat’s Uphill Battle

AirChat’s audio-first approach and default transcribing functionality will consume more resources. This could be difficult to maintain as opposed to maintaining a regular social media app that mainly requires larger cloud storage. Although the initial set of users has praised the app, it still lacks the diversity of a true social media platform. The lack of content moderation on AirChat in favour of free speech will likely have some consequences in the long run, going by the turbulent history of social media platforms.

The biggest challenge for AirChat is to stay relevant among the masses.

Furthermore, the app currently does not have a clear monetization plan. Naval says that AirChat is not under pressure for monetization right now and that the platform has multiple other investors.

While the concept of AirChat is interesting, it’s not truly unique, as we have witnessed several audio-focused social media apps. Clubhouse is the biggest viral name in the list of audio-based social media apps. Clubhouse allows users to create audio rooms where multiple people can talk directly with each other in real-time, just like a conference call.

Clubhouse App on Android

However, Clubhouse’s success was short-lived. The hype died as quickly as it rose. Early users of AirChat are speculating that the app could have a similar future to Clubhouse, while others are sceptical about its sustainability. It remains to be seen what the future of AirChat holds.