Clubhouse announces Wave, making it easier to start casual private rooms

Today, Clubhouse is rolling out Wave, a feature that makes it easier to start private rooms with friends when you see that they’re online. Available globally on iOS and Android, Wave will replace starting a private room with friends. You can wave at multiple people at once, so long as they follow you, and anyone who accepts will join your private room as a speaker.

To send a wave, navigate to the Hallway by swiping right or tapping the dots icon on the bottom left of the screen. Then, tap the wave button next to the names of the people you want to chat with. Those people will get a notification that you invited them to a room — if they deny the request, you won’t know. If they accept, they can be added to a private room with you and anyone else who accepted your invitation.

While you’re waiting for friends to connect with you, you can still browse around the app and join other rooms — you’ll be notified when someone joins your private room from your Wave. While you browse, a small Wave bar will appear on the screen, making it easier to cancel your Wave if you become engrossed in another conversation.

Image Credits: Clubhouse

These private rooms can still be reported to Clubhouse if someone is breaking the rules. Clubhouse told TechCrunch that if someone waves to people that have blocked each other, then the first person to join will have access, but the next person won’t be allowed in, since a user in the room has them blocked.

The feature will start rolling out today, but users need to have the latest version of Clubhouse downloaded to gain access. Wave was first spotted by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong last week — Clubhouse played along.

Image Credits: Clubhouse

Though Clubhouse said in a blog post that more than 700,000 rooms are created on the app each day, the pressure is on the startup to compete with more established companies like FacebookTwitterSpotify and Discord, which have invested in their own live audio products.

Clubhouse launched for Android in May and came out of beta in July — but according to estimates from app analytics firm SensorTower, Clubhouse only saw about 1.7 million global installs last month, down 35% month over month from about 2.6 million in July. Its best month on record was in February, when it gained 9.6 million downloads. To date, SensorTower estimates that Clubhouse has been downloaded 32.2 million times.

Clubhouse has recently unveiled upgrades like Backchannel, a messaging feature and support for spatial audio, which offers a more life-like experience of being in a room full of people. But the app still doesn’t have live captioning, making it inaccessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Facebook Live Audio Rooms and Twitter Spaces already support this feature.