Microsoft is adding a new Walkie Talkie feature to its Slack competitor, Microsoft Teams. Available in preview in the coming months, the feature will turn smartphones or tablets into a walkie-talkie that will work over Wi-Fi or cellular data. Microsoft is embedding the feature at the center of its navigation bar inside Microsoft Teams, suggesting that’s a highly requested feature that will be used by a lot of companies.
It’s primarily designed for “firstline workers,” employees who face customers and run day-to-day operations inside companies. Microsoft is positioning this as a more secure way of using a traditional walkie-talkie. “Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders,” says Emma Williams, a Microsoft corporate vice president.
Surprisingly, not many other communications apps like Slack, WhatsApp, or Messenger have a walkie-talkie feature. Apple introduced a similar app on its Apple Watch a couple of years ago using push-to-talk in a FaceTime Audio call. Microsoft is also using push-to-talk to turn Teams into a walkie-talkie, promising a clear and instant connection.
Walkie Talkie will be arriving alongside a number of new access management features for businesses that use Microsoft Teams. These include SMS sign-in, shared device sign-out, and much more.