A hallmark of Boost Mobile prepaid phones from the early 2000s was its PTT function, allowing you to talk through another person’s cell phone speaker by pressing one button. Microsoft has announced plans for an upcoming update to Office 365 which will bring a similar feature to iOS (iPhone) and Android smartphones. However, Microsoft isn’t trying to use rap artists and sports stars to make Skype look cool, which was one way Boost Mobile tried to market its service. Instead, the company has positioned the feature as a way for employees to use tech tools to help them better serve their clients.
On Wednesday, Emma Williams, Corporate Vice President for Modern Work Transformation at Microsoft, announced that Walkie Talkies (the feature) was made available “for all iOS mobile devices, including iPhone and iPad” in addition to Android mobile phones.
He added that the new feature would be available for certain Zebra Technologies products, including rugged smartphones and scanners. You might be able to use these devices without an internet connection by pressing a button. Just like some older Walkie Talkies® and Sprint™’s old Push To Talk (PTT) phones.
According to Williams, there were approximately 1 million people working for Microsoft across its various teams at the end of 2017. By December 2018, that figure had increased by almost four times to 4 million employees. Bring Walkie Talkies For Teams aims to address workforce challenges faced by front line employees through technology that enables them to save time, improve communication, and maximize their efficiency during repetitive tasks. One way Microsoft differentiates its own team collaboration app from competitors’ products like Slack and Zoom is through the use of the Walkie Talkie feature. Slack is mainly used for textual communication; however, its Huddle feature enables quick verbal conversations among team members. While Zoom’s idea of “PTT” (Push To Talk) is about allowing you to easily mute yourself when someone else starts talking. Some other modern smartphones offer walkie-talkie features. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has already included this feature in its watchOS 6 software update for the Apple Watch. While Microsoft has positioned the Walkie Talkie app for teams as an employee communication tool, there’s no reason why you couldn’t use it to call out “Where ya at?!” to a friend.