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