ABC News has announced a new app called Social Soundtracker that will allow viewers to tap buttons — "clap," "boo," "laugh," "gasp," and "aww" — in order to express how they feel while watching the news. Coming soon as a web and iPhone app, Social Soundtracker syncs with Facebook so that you can see how your friends are feeling as they watch the same news programming. Social Soundtracker seems to be designed to minimize interruption: when a "significant number" of your friends are experiencing the same emotion, the app will produce a corresponding sound. The web app will debut on Saturday during the coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner, while the iPhone version will be out in May.
As for why viewers would want to use it, that remains unclear
Television networks are all hoping to use the power of social media to capture audience reactions in real time, valuable data that would translate into ad dollars. As for why viewers would want to use it, that remains unclear. ABC says hosts could use the app to get more intimate with their audiences, and viewers could eventually "search for shows that make your friends laugh" or watch only the most hilarious parts of an awards show. The latter features aren't available yet, however, so right now this just looks like ABC asking its viewers to do a lot of click-work in order to give the network more monetizable data.
That's not all. ABC says a "future iteration" of the app may integrate facial detection technology "so your media will be able to even more literally watch and hear you as you watch and hear it, alongside everyone watching with you." Of course, when Microsoft suggested that, it didn't go over so well.
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to a desktop app; it's actually a web app.