Walkie-Talkie Functionality Coming to Microsoft Teams for Mobile

Posted by Jordan Weber on Wed, Feb, 12, 2020 @ 14:02 PM

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Walkie Talkies may be among the most resilient and intrinsically satisfying forms of telecommunication humans have ever invented. Developed for the military during the Second World War, the technology has since become ubiquitous and essential. Technically referred to as a two-way handheld radio transceiver, these devices have endeared themselves to professions the world over. Walkie talkies are considered mission-critical equipment for fire departments, militaries, police, astronauts, construction crews, and any 9-year old who aspires toward any of those professions. There are arguably two reasons for this device’s sustained popularity.Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie screen capture

The first reason is their versatility. Walkie-talkie technology can fulfill a wide variety of needs without much customization. In a pinch, even decent consumer-grade devices would work for a construction crew or search team. In short, the technology still meets our needs, so there’s no reason to replace it outright.

Aside from their exceptional functionality, it must be acknowledged that walkie talkies are just plain cool. Anyone who played with these as a kid can attest to feeling a bona fide badassery when they pressed that button and spoke to their friends over the power of a wavering nine-volt.  Even some of our favorite Hollywood icons would look genuinely empty-handed without their walkie talkies. Think John McLane, Peter Venkman, Marty McFly, and Unit 91. Men of action use walkie talkies. It is written.

Not even the cellphone has diminished the walkie talkie’s relevance. Remember Nextel’s push-to-talk phones from the early 2000s? These were and have continued to be massively popular among small businesses and blue-collar professionals. So much so that Microsoft has decided to throw its hat in the ring by introducing push-to-talk for Teams. Theoretically this could bring PTT functionality to any smartphone with the app.Nextel Push To talk phone

While Teams already provides for text and voice communication, push-to-talk is different from a phone call. The new PTT feature will simply push a voice message out to a person or group. This is great if, for example, you’re on a jobsite working with your hands and/or wearing a headset. On the other hand, sitting at a desk listening to voice messages from the entire office will get old quick. We predict IT departments will invariably be tasked with policing the platform to ensure it isn’t abused. A few other notes:

  • Don’t expect this feature on the next regular Teams update. For the time being, walkie-talkie functionality is only available in private preview for select users until Q3 2020.
  • Microsoft claims Teams PTT is a security win, since analog walkie-talkie devices operate on unsecured networks and are vulnerable to eavesdropping & crosstalk.
  • This is a sign Microsoft is committed to growing the Teams platform. The software giant announced Teams has grown to 20 million daily users, compared to half that number just four months ago.
  • According to Microsoft’s post, the service will offer “clear, instant, and secure voice communication” for both smartphones and tablets.

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Topics: Microsoft Teams