It’s all been about finally ditching the idea of walkie-talkie. The phones became smaller, then bigger but stronger. The newly emerged etiquette requires texting before calling on the phone since both can be done within the same messenger app. But suddenly it turned out that the idea of the walkie-talkie, with one participant talking at a time, is still required, and probably even less than before.
The first reason for that is obvious. The devices we have are equally good for texting and speaking our messages, but the human part of us finds it easier and quicker to speak than to type. So one-way voice messages are the feature supported in most messengers, and clouds are capable to store centuries of the spoken word.
The second is about ethos again. Most of us have busy days, and duplex communication needs to be scheduled suitable for the two participants. Exchanging voice messages, just the opposite, lets each of the two find the best time to listen and to answer, regardless of what the other is doing at the moment.
It’s so demanded now that even Apple has Internet-based Walkie-Talkie mode built into watchOS 5. As for phones, neither iOS nor Android comes equipped with apps for that from the start. But there are always third-party apps for that. The only inconvenience is that all the participants need to have the app installed. The rest is pure convenience we love this class of devices for. So, here are the best walkie-talkie apps for Android and iOS.
(Android, iOS, Windows Phone)
So far, it’s the default online walkie-talkie for both private and group communication. Its easy interface and rich features show right as you enter the app. This app is free and available for most platforms (even for Windows Phone, doomed and abandoned).
It’s been around for years; so whatever you want to talk about, you’ll find a channel on this in your language. And if suddenly there isn’t one, you can create your own.
The app is quite flexible in settings. For example, you can adjust the volume for any participant of the chat. That can be useful, because each participant has a unique manner of speaking.
As soon as participants of the chat open the app, they receive the messages from the chats they are in. That guarantees that no message will be lost, even if you open it much later. The service is also capable of sending texts, pictures, and alerts.
Well, though this app looks like a typical messenger of 2010s, inspired by WhatsApp and its likes, it’s still a walkie-talkie, and its features are about as rich as those of Zello. It’s an alternative one, better for private chats or closer groups of friends and colleagues. In the free version, it supports private chats and groups. Public channels are not supported. On the other hand, it offers encryption for all the messages you send and receive.
Its premium tools set includes useful features like instant voice-to-text transcription, quoting earlier messages from chats (including other ones), hands-free manner of usage, and so on. The subscription is $3/mo or $30/yr; quite affordable for business needs.
If you just need the basic functionality of walkie-talkie, that’s the app. No extras like images or texting; app stores are full of conventional messengers for that. It also doesn’t support choosing individual contacts from your list.
But old-school radio enthusiasts will appreciate this due to familiar feelings. Instead of direct voice messages, you select your area (country, region, and so on) and send your messages to everyone within it. All the other Two-Way users will be able to hear you and reply. For private chats there are other ways: instead of speaking to a certain user, you can find an unused channel with Key Pad and transfer there. There are enough channels to have a private talk; strangers may interfere if they suddenly select the same number, but chances are they won’t.
This app is exactly what it says on the tin. The app, just like the previous one, uses the channel system. When you set up communication with your friends or colleagues, you need to download the app and select the channel to use. On this channel, you can exchange voice messages in walkie-talkie mode. They are sent as soon as recorded.
This simple app doesn’t leave much for you to adjust, except for minor things like the background color. Though, probably, if you don’t need the power of overcrowded Zello, you may opt for this consciously. It’s available for iOS only, so it’s a good addition to the Apple Watch walkie-talkie feature.
It’s a rather unusual app, because it’s meant for sending video messages in walkie-talkie mode. Of course, it’s a step away from the original idea. But if that’s just what you need, Marco Polo is a perfect option. Positioned as a solution for those who cannot afford syncing their time for communicating, it’s all about video.
Of course, it has Snapchat-like bells and whistles, meant to make videos more emotional. So you can add texts, stickers, and filters. It goes a bit beyond our original topic, still, the app is worth some attention if you prefer one-way communication.
This one is quite unusual too, and it’s not about its video capability only, but about getting close to the real walkie-talkie mode as well. We mean that dependence on the Internet connection immanent for all the apps above. Instead of relying on Wi-Fi or cellular connection only, Walkietooth makes use of any other way of sending data. It can send voice messages via local Wi-Fi networks, via Bluetooth, or via direct device-to-device connection.
With this app you can use your old smartphone as a baby monitor, installing it on both devices and positioning them in different rooms. Its video capabilities will be especially useful here.
This versatility is also useful in the countryside, with no stable Internet connection. For example, it’s great for a motorcycle or bicycle party, with all the members quite close to each other. Of course, it’s a niche solution for certain situations, but if that’s the case with you, it’s worth considering. Alas, it’s an Android prerogative, and there aren’t any analogs as functional on iOS.
Except for the last app, all of those above don’t make your smartphones function as real walkie-talkies. It’s a hardware limitation: while real WT’s have their own standalone transmitters and receivers powerful enough to function independently, smartphones are bound to cellular or Wi-Fi networks. Keep that in mind, while planning your usage of these apps.