Recently, I came across an interesting app that will turn your iPhone into a walkie talkie. PushToTalk, developed by David Fletcher, will allow you connect and communicate with friends and family in a “Push to Talk” and “Over and Out” fashion. For it to work, all parties must have it installed on their iPhone (with 2.2 firmware) and be on a Wi-Fi network for best results.
Lets have a look at how it works:
- From ‘Your Information’, choose a group name and password. Share this info with your friends
- Choose your nickname and personal icon. You can take a new photo or choose an image from your camera roll.
- Once your friends or family enter the same group name and password, they will appear under Friend ID
- Press and hold the talk button. When the red light on the button lights, start talking.
- Your voice message will be sent to all all parties connected
* It should be noted that the group name and password you enter are case sensitive. The first time my friend JP and I tested out PushToTalk, we weren’t able connect as he had enter the name and password in lower case (mine were in upper case).
Once we were connected though, JP and I were able to send voice messages back and forth like a real walkie talkie. The sound quality was surprisingly good. His messages came through my iPhone speaker loud and clear. In fact, it sounded almost as if we were talking on the phone (with speaker on). While the sound quality is good, you will experience a delay when sending and receiving a message. On Wi-Fi, from the time I released the ‘Press & Hold To Talk’ button, it took anywhere between 20-30 seconds before I heard JP’s reply (this will vary depending how much you have to say). Of course, this 20-30 seconds does include JP listening to my incoming and taking his turn to reply.
Curious to see if it works on 3G, we switched off Wi-Fi on our phones and logged back in. After testing it out for a short while on this network, lets just say you are much much better off on Wi-Fi. Pushing the ‘Press & Hold To Talk’ button took a full 5 secs or more just to activate it. Instead of the 20-30 seconds between messages, it jumped to 50 secs to a minute. We also noticed that the sound quality took a hit. Not by a whole lot, but still noticeable.
PushToTalk also supports multiple people logging into the same “Walkie Talkie Room”, so its nice added feature for those interested in a group chat. I was only able to test this app out with JP, so I can’t comment on how well it works with more than one person on the other end.
The History feature can also come in handy. It basically stores a log of all incoming and outgoing messages, though only the ones received can be played back. Be sure to clear this often as it can clog up system resources and affect its performance.
Stability was an issue with PushToTalk. There were times when it would crash upon loading or even while using the app. While it doesn’t happen very often, it does detract from the experience. David has told me that stability and usability improvements are on the way, so its good news for those who are already users or are planning on giving it a try.
I can see how PushToTalk may not be an app for everyone, considering how you can just talk on the phone or use voip (like fring). But if you like the idea of turning your iPhone into a walkie talkie for the low price of $0.99 and being able to have multiple people join in on the fun, PushToTalk should be on your app radar. It may have its issues with stability and delay between messages, but I did find it rather fun to use and was quite impressed by the sound quality. To end this off, I would like to leave you with what JP had to say:
“If you are both on a Wi-Fi network and you want to communicate with someone half way across the world, avoid the long distance charges and if the messages are short, it works quite well. “