Apple will soon give users of iPhone apps the option to talk to each other using push-to-talk. This is similar to communication via walkie-talkies: you have to hold down a button to talk.
App developers can now add the new walkie-talkie feature to their iOS apps. Apple offers a so-called API for this in iOS 16 . That’s the big update for the iPhone that Apple announced this week at the WWDC developer conference .
The iPhone maker dedicated a special session to push-to-talk communication, in which it explains to developers how they can add the walkie-talkie function to their apps. Apps can currently use audio in the background, but that is limited to voice messages and conversations. With the new push-to-talk API, audio messages can be sent and received in real time, even in the background.
In push-to-talk apps, users must hold a button to talk. Their audio message is then played immediately via a notification at the top of the recipient’s screen, who can respond immediately or leave the conversation. The feature supports group calls and also works directly from the lock screen, without the user having to unlock the device first, according to Apple.
Apple already has its own walkie-talkie app on the Apple Watch , but it currently uses FaceTime to forward audio messages. It is not yet known whether Apple will launch its own walkie-talkie app for the iPhone.
There are already a number of walkie-talkie-like apps for iOS that use different techniques, but according to Apple, these apps will eventually have to switch to the new standard method.