Microsoft has announced that it is introducing a “push-to-talk experience” to its ‘Teams’ collaborative platform that turns employee or company-owned smartphones and tablets into walkie-talkies.
The new ‘Walkie Talkie’ feature will offer clear, instant and secure voice communication over the cloud. This means that it will not be at risk from traditional analogue (unsecured network) walkie-talkie problems such as crosstalk or eavesdropping, and Microsoft says that because Walkie Talkie works over Wi-Fi or cellular data, it can also be used across geographic locations.
The Walkie Talkie feature can be accessed in private preview in Teams in the first half of this year and will be available in the Teams mobile app. Microsoft says that Walkie Talkie will also integrate with Samsung’s new Galaxy XCover Pro enterprise-ready smartphone for business.
The main benefits of Walkie Talkie are making it easier for firstline workers to communicate and manage tasks as well as reducing the number of devices employees must carry and lowering IT costs.
Walkie Talkie also gives Teams another advantage over its increasingly distant rival Slack, which doesn’t currently have its own Walkie Talkie-style feature, although things like spontaneous voice chat can be added to Slack with Switchboard.
Last month, Microsoft announced that its Teams product had reached the 20 million daily active users (and growing) mark, thereby sending Slack’s share price downwards.
Apple Watch users (Series 1 or later with watch OS 5.3 or later, not in all countries though) have been able to use a ‘Walkie-Talkie’ app since October last year.
For businesses using Microsoft Teams, the new Walkie Talkie feature could be a cost-saving and convenient tool for firstline workers, and the fact that it integrates Samsung’s new Galaxy XCover Pro will give it even more value for businesses.
For Microsoft, the new Walkie Talkie feature, along with 7 other recently announced new tools for Teams focused firmly on communication and task management for firstline workers are more ways that Teams can gain a competitive advantage over rival Slack, and increase the value of Office 365 to valuable business customers.