Microsoft Teams turns your phone into a walkie-talkie

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One of the features of Boost Mobile prepaid phones in the early 2000s was their push-to-talk (PTT), or walkie-talkie, feature that let you have your voice heard through a phone’s speaker. other Boost Mobile user at the touch of a button. button. Microsoft is now bringing similar functionality to iOS and Android devices through its Teams app. However, Microsoft isn’t using rappers and athletes to try to make the PTT “cool” like Boost Mobile did. Instead, the company is positioning the feature as a way to use technology to help frontline workers.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Emma Williams, vice president of modern work transformation at Microsoft, announced that the walkie-talkie capability in Teams is now available “on all iOS mobile devices, such as iPhones and smartphones. iPads, in addition to Android mobile devices.

Williams also said the feature will come to select Zebra Technologies devices, such as rugged phones or scanning devices. These products may even have a button you can press to connect instantly, just like real walkie-talkies and old Boost Mobile PTT phones.

If you don't have a Zebra device, you can tap an icon on the Teams app to talk to someone.
Enlarge / If you don’t have a Zebra device, you can tap an icon on the Teams app to talk to someone.

According to Williams, the number of frontline workers using Teams increased by 400% from March to November last year. Bringing Walkie Talkie for Teams to mobile devices aims to address the challenges frontline workers face due to labor shortages and supply chain issues by providing “technology that saves them time , helps them communicate more seamlessly and maximizes their efficiency when performing repetitive tasks,” Williams wrote. .

The walkie-talkie feature is a way for Microsoft to differentiate Teams in a workplace filled with competing apps, like Slack and Zoom, by highlighting fast, on-the-go voice communication. Slack is primarily a text-based chat, but its Huddle feature lets you quickly chat with co-workers. Meanwhile, the idea of ​​Zoom on the PTT is to allow you to wake up quickly.

Walkie-talkie functionality is also available on some other modern mobile devices. As 9to5Mac pointed out, Apple brought an app with this feature to the Apple Watch in 2018.

But while Microsoft is positioning the Walkie-Talkie for Teams as a work tool, there’s nothing stopping you from using it to shout a “where are you?” to a friend.

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