Last month, The edge broke the news of Mark Cuban and Falon Fatemi’s new app Fireside, which promises to deliver a “next generation podcast platform”, and today we can give a better sense of the app’s functionality and interface. It is currently in beta on iOS with a limited number of testers, most of whom appear to be working in venture capital or as podcasters. However, their chats are visible to anyone, even non-users, via a browser and from this desktop view as well as screenshots of the app that The edge have seen, we can get a sense of what Fireside is trying to achieve.
By and large, the app is best described as a hybrid between Spotify̵
The broad weight, at least based on the conversations that take place in the app, seems to be on how Fireside can help podcasters monetize their work through exclusive conversations or in some cases recruit them to Fireside for all their podcasting efforts. The app encourages audience participation more than the clubhouse, as users can respond to conversations without being on stage and they can write comments or questions.
Creators in the app say they have heard that the app allows them to host their shows and distribute them through RSS feeds to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcast players, which is also more tailored to Anchor than Clubhouse. A creator in a chat says they plan to use Fireside for hosting instead of their usual service.
When looking at the desktop view, user profiles include a photo, a movie theater, and a follower / following count. You can also see the rooms that the user has hosted, as well as the ones they have participated in. The app records built-in conversations so you can listen to these previous chats from the desktop. The app apparently assigns an emoji to the archived chats, although it is unclear how they are selected.
Once you have selected a chat, you can press play on a call. You will probably immediately notice team-like music in the beginning, which comes from a Fireside bot called waitBOT. Botten says it plays “soothing music for you while you wait for people to participate.” You can also see the description of the event as a chyron along the bottom of the screen as well as info, such as how many people were listening to and who was hosting it.
A “skip” button allows you to skip to highlighted parts of the conversation that the host selects. When speakers switch through the conversation, you can see their profile picture and name. Speakers with a rapporteur are moderators, while speakers with a crown are hosts. Moderators and hosts can automatically silence people and welcome people on stage.
Setting up for a live chat from the desktop is a little less thorough than the recorded conversations. You can only see icons and names as well as the number of people listening. When a person’s microphone is on, their photo is completely opaque, and when dimmed, it’s transparent.
From the app itself, which The edge have seen in screenshots, users can “respond” to conversations with emoji and sound effects. People can, for example, clap, who appear in the recorded conversations and solve a problem that clubhouse users have encountered: a quiet space and no way to measure how what they say goes over.
Audience members can also select an emoji and write a comment without jumping directly into a conversation. These comments and emoji appear over participants’ heads like a thought bubble. Moderators or hosts can then write back or address comments during the chat.
If the participants do will participate in live chat, they can request to join the scene by tapping a microphone emoji and submitting a written request.
For now, this is our best view of Fireside. Fatemi declined to comment on this story and we do not have a better sense of when the app might launch in public. We will update this story if we learn more.