As you can see in the aboce screenshot, the new option enables you to either keep the video playing in a floating window outside the app, or to just keep the audio rolling, so you can listen to the conversation without having to watch the video. That could provide more usage options for TikTok streams, enabling people to tune in when they're, say, on a run, or in the car on the way home, and are unable to tune into the full experience.
Audio options became a sudden hit last year, when Clubhouse reawakened users to the potential of the medium, which sparked a wave of copycat functions on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. That trend, along with the steady rise of podcast listening, ignited all new consumption trends, and with live-streams often providing unique insight from your favorite stars, it makes sense for TikTok to also provide an audio-only option, as a means to help maximize its potential.
It could also provide a new consideration for TikTok stars looking to build their audience, and increase community engagement. Now, they'll be able to broadcast in audio only, or at least, with audio as the focus, which could help to better align people with their TikTok presence, and increase following growth.
At the same time, it is somewhat limited. I mean, you can't tune into TikTok clips in audio form, it's only valuable for live-streams - but then again, if that's a key aspect of your strategy, it could be a handy addition to facilitate more connection and engagement. It seems fairly logical really. The new audio-only playback mode is currently being rolled out to all users.