During the WWDC 2018 Keynote, a new Walkie-Talkie feature of Apple Watch is shown. This allows the users to communicate with their contacts using their Apple Watch. On pressing an onscreen “Talk” button lets the users send voice messages which are automatically played on the recipient’s device.
The “real-time voice but with the spontaneity of short messaging” as the feature is being called is working similar to a limited-functionality FaceTime call. This was inferred during the demonstration from the process of setting up the Walkie-Talkie communication and how it operates.
To start the communication, the user requires to select a contact they want to use Walkie-Talkie with. This sends a request to the contact’s watch and when accepted they can communicate via the push-to-talk system.
The version shown at the WWDC took nearly ten seconds to initiate the conversation, but it takes no time to use the push-to-talk feature. The delay is caused by the need to connect the two devices via Wi-Fi or cellular. The call remains connected even if both the users are silent, there will be a limit on how long the session will last.
The push-to-talk is a great way of giving the user privacy. Unlike recording voice memos on one device then transmitting the file over to the recipient, the app works as a live call which doesn’t require any recording. Right now, the user can turn off incoming Walkie-Talkie calls with an availability toggle.
It is not confirmed if Apple will make changes to the availability options before watchOS 5 is made available to the public.
Apple has already provided the first developer beta of watchOS 5, which is expected to be made available to the public this fall as a free update for Apple Watch Series 1 and later devices. Original Apple Watch owners are not expected to be able to use watchOS 5.