EP 48: Why Microsoft Teams' Walkie-Talkie App is a Game-Changer

Merge the simplicity of push-to-talk with the versatility of Microsoft Teams.

In this episode of Tech UNMUTED, Santi introduces a groundbreaking addition to Microsoft Teams - the Walkie-Talkie app. This mobile-exclusive feature transforms your device into a push-to-talk radio, seamlessly integrating into your daily workflow without the need for additional hardware. Santi demonstrates its functionality live, explores practical use cases across various industries, and highlights its potential to replace outdated communication tools. With no extra cost for Teams subscribers, this app promises to enhance productivity and connectivity in dynamic work environments. Join us to discover how Microsoft's latest innovation is setting a new standard for team communication.

Watch & Listen

Tech UNMUTED is on YouTube
Catch up with new episodes or hear from our archive. Explore and subscribe!

Transcript for this Episode:

INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

SANTI: Welcome to another episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today we're going to look at a brand-new app that Microsoft has released for Microsoft Teams that I think you're going to find very interesting. Before we begin, let me just remind everybody, please take this time to subscribe and hit that notification bell. By the way, you can also share our podcast with a friend and even leave a comment down below. We love comments. We want to hear from you.

Microsoft keeps adding more and more innovation to Teams. They just added something called the Walkie-Talkie app. It's basically a push-to-talk app. Now before I tell you all about the app and what it can do, I figure let me just show you how this functions and then I'll walk you through some use cases. Basically, I already installed the app. It is only available on your mobile device. It's going to be on your mobile device only. It's a big blue button that you hold down and you speak into it. I have my friend Eric on standby. Let's go ahead and give this a try and see how this works. This is Santi reaching out to Eric Feldman. I'm very sorry that your Eagles have lost to the Cowboys. Just saying.

ERIC: Let's see what happens tomorrow night when your Dolphins play the Chiefs.

SANTI: I'm not going to bet because I may lose. Let's just enjoy the game. Hey, by the way, we should probably hop on a podcast and have some banter sometime in the future. Santi's out. There you go. Pretty cool. If you remember, there was a time where I think even Sprint had the push to talk on their phones and everybody was walking around using their phones as a radio. There's been other solutions that have come out ever since, but this is really smart by Microsoft because I want you to think about this for a minute.

Basically, what you're doing is you're taking what normally would be a separate platform like a separate radio or a separate device or something, and you're bringing it into a very familiar environment. It is what they use today if they use Microsoft Teams, for their daily workflows. This is actually a very smart move, and I'm glad they did it. A couple of things to note about this new application. I'm actually very excited about this application and I'll tell you why. First, it only works on your mobile device. Obviously, you're not going to walk around with a laptop using that as radio. It's only going to be on your Apple iPhones and on your Android phones. That's the first thing.

Second, it's not something you're going to be able to find by default in the App Store. It has to be released or allowed by your IT department. Your IT folks have to first make the app available to your organization and then you'll be able to find it in the App Store. It's not available by default. It has to be authorized by your IT folks so just keep that in mind. Then the third thing to keep in mind with regards to the Walkie-Talkie app. It's a mobile device only, needs to be authorized by your IT department. Then finally, it will only work with a channel.

What does that mean? Okay, so within Microsoft Teams, you can create a team, right? Underneath that team, there'll be different channels. You add you can have I think it's up to five channels. You can have up to five channels. Basically, you add a channel, you tie the Walkie-Talkie app to a channel. Obviously, Eric and I are in a channel that's underneath the team that we're both part of. We're able to test this radio. That's how that works. That's the key. It won't work any other way. Again, I believe it's up to five channels. One more thing. It will work with wireless devices.

Now I use an iPhone and I use the Beats Pro earbuds. No issues. I've tested it. Works perfectly fine. However, when it comes to the Android phones, there seems to be a list of approved and tested wireless devices. I'll see if I can provide that link to that list. There doesn't does not seem to be a list for iPhones. I guess if you have an iPhone and you have a wireless device that works with your iPhone, it looks like it's going to work just fine. At least my experience so far using the Beats, no issues whatsoever.

Anyway, so it's the Walkie-Talkie app. It's pretty cool. Like I said, it lives right on your phone and inside of your team's environment, which folks already use anyway. Here's the beauty about this app, it costs nothing. Meaning it is included with your existing Microsoft Teams subscription. It's a win-win, right? It's very easy to use. It's a big blue button. You just hold it down and you push the button to talk and then you release the button to listen to what the other person has to say. It's pretty straightforward.

Yes, so it's great because it's no additional charge, it's part of your Microsoft subscription. You can just add this app and use it as a radio. Okay, now use cases. Why? Why should it even matter? Why is this such a big deal? I'll tell you why it's a big deal. Think about a campus environment. Campus environment could be a hospital, could be a university, large campuses, right? They probably have radios. Maybe it's a security team that has radios. Who knows? Now you have to manage an entire infrastructure of radios. That's one thing, right?

You can have people just use their phone, which they all have. All you need is internet connectivity. It'll work over your 5G connectivity, or it'll work over your Wi-Fi connection. It doesn't matter. You just need internet connectivity. Think about retail. Retail uses it all the time. All you have to do is walk into any retail store. You're going to see folks with their earpiece and that line going down to the radios. Now they can eliminate that and use their wireless headsets and use their regular phones, so it eliminates that.

Think about also, for example, maybe a large warehouse, right? Large warehouses where trying to speak to workers that are scattered inside this huge complex may be easier to just do a push to talk. The biggest thing for me is that you're replacing probably an old infrastructure of radios and chargers and maybe there's maintenance involved with them and maybe the signal is not as clear because it's trying to ride an antenna versus sending a packet over the internet.

Whatever the case may be, you're basically bringing everything into Microsoft Teams. To me, it just makes sense. Now here's the other thing. So far, all the examples, all the use cases I gave you are localized, meaning it's a campus, it's a warehouse, it's a hospital. If you take a radio with an antenna, those walkie-talkies probably have a 2-mile radius, a 1-mile radius. The further away you get, the harder it is to hear those radios.

But if you have a fleet, and so now you have a bunch of trucks on the road and drivers and there's a whole fleet and they're out there, obviously they could be all over the country for all we know. They could be all over the world. If you're driving interstate, for example, and you need a radio, you're going to have to pay for service or have a different type of radio that's going to use repeaters, right? Or even like a citizen band radio. You're not going to be able to reach those people on a citizen's band radio they're too far. Somebody else will speak to them, but you won't as a logistics manager for example and so you need to invest now into a technology that uses repeaters. Anyway, we can go on and on. Those truck drivers have a phone and if you already have a Microsoft 365 environment you have Teams, now they can just push the big blue button on their phone and speak to you, and you can speak to them.

If it's connected to their Bluetooth car, they can hear this while they're driving. To me, it just makes sense. It's one more thing that you bring into the fold. I think it's a very good idea that Microsoft did this kudos to them. I do see a lot of great applications and use cases for something like this. Again, it's now part of your Microsoft environment. It's all Included and so there's no need now to invest in additional hardware. It's a short podcast because what it is there's always something new that Microsoft releases. There's always something. It's hard to keep track of it. This one just stood out for me.

One, it's fun. You can turn your phone and your Teams' application into a push-to-talk radio. That's awesome. Two, I think there's absolutely real-world business cases and value for something like this and I wanted to put it out there. If you have a Microsoft environment and you are using Teams and there is currently a need for push-to-talk or what we used to call walkie-talkies this is the app for you.

It's already available. It's been made generally available by Microsoft for Teams users, but again, your admin has to authorize or else it won't show up on your app store. Yes, it's great. Remember you do have to tie it to a Teams and a team within your Teams, and it's tied to a specific channel. It could be the default channel, when you create a team inside of Teams, it automatically gives you a channel called general, it could use that channel as well. You don't have to create a separate customized channel. Because I have one where it's the general default channel that's created and I have another one that is a custom channel and it works in both instances so it doesn't really matter but it does have to be a channel. That being said, that brings this podcast to an end. Check it out. It's the new Walkie-Talkie app from Microsoft for your Microsoft Teams environment. I'd love to hear if you're able to implement it, if you start using it, have you seen an increase in productivity because you're able to do this? Were you able to get rid of old, archaic hardware and radios? I would love to hear what's the result.

Go out there now, speak to your IT folks, have them activated in your store, download it, give it a test run, and turn your Microsoft Teams mobile app into a push-to-talk radio. It's pretty cool. So, folks please remember to subscribe and hit the notification bell, so you don't miss the next episode of Tech UNMUTED. Until next time, stay curious, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.

Episode Credits:

Produced by: Fusion Connect


Manage the Walkie Talkie app in Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Learn

2023 TMCnet Best Tech Podcast award winner

Expert insights, exclusive content, and the latest updates on Microsoft products and services - direct to your inbox. Subscribe to Tech ROUNDUP!

Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

Get show notes, transcripts, and other details at www.fusionconnect.com/techUNMUTED. Tech UNMUTED is a production of Fusion Connect, LLC.