Clubhouse may have accidentally leaked a new feature, according to some users who encountered it very briefly last week. Known as Backchannel, it is reported by some to be the app’s built-in text-based private messaging function – a feature that is absent from the audio-exclusive chat platform.
According to the users via a series of tweets, Clubhouse prompted “Backchannel enabled” during their respective sessions, and introduced a new “Start a room” button at the bottom of the screen. However, it appears that the feature itself is incomplete, as tapping it displays an empty page – with the only functional interaction being the back button. Backchannel was removed from the app minutes after it appeared unexpectedly.
While it is speculated that the new feature is the app’s own text-based messaging feature, there’s no actual evidence that supports this claim. Its exact function is still unclear for the time being, but the name “Backchannel” suggests that the feature is intended from a discreet discussion between hosts, speakers, or attendees while the audio-based discussion is still in session.
Wow looks like accidental update of @clubhouse enabled in app backchannel & switch of side bar & full experience.
Seems it’s rolled back now but from what I saw it was beautiful!!
— Brian Fanzo 🧢 Keynote Speaker $ADHD (@iSocialFanz) June 18, 2021
Interestingly enough, Backchannel’s inclusion in the current version of Clubhouse was not referenced whatsoever in the release notes. Therefore, it is certain that the developers did not intend to introduce this seemingly incomplete function anytime soon.
When reached out for comment by The Verge, a spokesperson explained that Clubhouse regularly explores and tests potential features as part of its product building process. As to whether Backchannel is planned to be a permanent addition to the app, the individual’s reply neither confirmed or deny such possibilities. “These functions sometimes become part of the app, sometimes they don’t,” they said. “We do not comment on potential features.”
— Duc Vu (@LSMav) June 18, 2021
So is Backchannel’s sudden appearance a technical blunder or a tease of what’s to come? We’ll never know until Clubhouse itself officially acknowledges the feature in a potential future release. At least the takeaway from this is that the company is actively exploring new ideas to introduce to its hugely popular app, which has recently seen a surge of clones developed by competitors such as Facebook, Twitter and so on.