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  • Apple Working on "Walkie-Talkie" for iPhones

    A patent application Apple made back in November shows that the company is working on a way to allow iPhone users to send data - including text and even short audio messages - over the GSM voice channel, bypassing the servers that carriers use to transfer text messages from one phone to another. AppleInsider got a hold of the application, which describes technology that would work somewhat similarly to the Nextel Direct Connect service, which allows handset users to communicate directly with each other over the cellular network rather than the phone system.

    Apple's patent filing notes that carriers must have backend servers called Short Message Service Centers (SMSCs) to handle text message traffic. These SMSCs transfer text messages in a store-and-forward fashion and as such may be overwhelmed when lots of users are trying to send texts at the same time. Apple proposes using the voice channel that is normally used to carry calls on the cellular network as a way to carry data from one iPhone to another.

    The voice channels on a GSM network are meant for carrying voice, not digital data itself. The technology proposed by Apple would actually "vocalize" pieces of data, for example a telephone number on the screen of an iPhone. A user would select the telephone number and use some command to send it to another iPhone, and the system would convert that data into sound. The recipient could then get the message as a voicemail, or their iPhone could alternatively convert the sound back into data.

    One possibility noted in the filing is that the messages sent could be short audio messages, which would end up being like Nextel's "walkie-talkie" feature, where users could communicate sequentially rather than at the same time. The technology also could be used to connect multiple users on a sort of shared party line.

    image via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Working on "Walkie-Talkie" for iPhones started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. wstcoast's Avatar
      wstcoast -
      You obviously don't work in construction. My company phone is a Nextel and I use my iPhone for work all the time. I'm all for carrying 1 phone. This would be great.
      Quote Originally Posted by ch0b1ts View Post
      Does anyone else hate this feature in phones?

      It is a phone, use it like a phone! If you want a Walkie-Talkie then buy a Walkie-Talkie. It it extremely annoying to hear both sides of someone's conversation that usually consists of a loud, garbled "Yo, where you at?" followed by "I'm wit my girl. Where you at?"

      It is a gimmick with no value added and Apple's time is better spent developing new technologies, ones that don't annoy everyone around you.


      Using Half Duplex communications seems kinda retarded on a Full-Duplex device. Why would you intentionally downgrade your communication ability?
    1. addictedto3gs's Avatar
      addictedto3gs -
      how does this look even close to a BBM style messenger? The iGroups patent looks a lot more like a IPM then this does. And why people are talking crap I will never know. You know just as much as I do that you will be waiting in line just like me for the new iPhone whether or not they cram tons of useless features in it or not. So why *****?
    1. mavrik101's Avatar
      mavrik101 -
      Yea, a lot of construction people use Nextel. But Nextel phones were built for this, They are extremely durable and LOUD. That was the point.

      Going half duplex is a step backwards. I would personally never use it, and it is very annoying when people walk by in the store and having to hear their conversation.
    1. Dark Angel's Avatar
      Dark Angel -
      Although some of you may not like PTT on the iPhone as you may feel that it is taking away from the iPhone's image of sophistication and advanced technology, I have to agree with all those that appreciate PTT. The Push-To-Talk(PTT) feature is an excellent addition to some of us.
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      exaclty. BBM for the iPhone. This would allow so many people to switch b/c they love the feature and also want the iPhone.

      Quote Originally Posted by hollow0 View Post
      i think with BBMs all of those are free. meaning it wont go against your text message plan. So if you don't want unlimited text because it's too expensive then hop on over to the blackberry messenger and send all the audio and text for free. That's the advantage.
      oh and it is cool among the teenagers to use it because its BlackBerry people only. it makes them feel special i guess
    1. eballesq's Avatar
      eballesq -
      Quote Originally Posted by LGgeek View Post
      Many think this is not useful but in the construction trades this feature is heavily used.
      I agree -- which is why it's dumb for Apple to try to include it on a phone you don't often see on construction sites.
    1. veebles's Avatar
      veebles -
      To the naysayers in this thread, why NOT add PTT and/or BBM? There are a hundred other things this phone can do that you or I probably don't really use, OR - more importantly - have actually GROWN to use over time because it was finally implemented in a useful way on the iPhone. Why would anyone argue this addition as being more frivolous or useless than any other feature on the iphone that doesn't involve making phone calls?

      My point is, if you don't like the feature, then you don't have to use it. Better yet, if your phone is jailbroken, I'm sure you'll be able to just disable the function entirely. THEORETICAL PROBLEM SOLVED
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      im not sure id ever use this. interesting though.
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Love it! More power and options the better. Put your iPhone in a Otter Box Defender case and it would protect it in a rough environment.
      On your iphone in the the phone mode type in:
      *3001#12345#* press call. This puts the phone in a cell test mode. Check out your cell channels and voice channels and more. In the top left it also shows your signal strength. Hopefully someone will make the walkie-talkie function work. Will have to check into it to see if there's a way to make it work in a local mode, ie: no cell towers, no charge, just the iPhones in a local area that are part of your group.