Staying in touch with coworkers in the field should get a whole lot easier for firstline workers thanks to an expansion of the push-to-talk walkie talkie functionality in Microsoft Teams (opens in new tab) to more devices.
According to a new post (opens in new tab) on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the feature will be available worldwide on Microsoft Teams phones in September 2021.
Once the feature rolls out, users with compatible Microsoft Teams phones will be able to use their device like a walkie talkie (opens in new tab) that can work over both a cellular or wireless connection. Users will be able to press and hold a button to speak to their team, and release the button to listen.
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The function had launched for Android devices (opens in new tab) in January 2020, when the company explained in a blog post (opens in new tab) how Teams' walkie talkie feature could reduce the number of devices employees need to carry each day while providing added security when compared to analog devices.
“This functionality, built natively into Teams, reduces the number of devices employees must carry, and lowers costs for IT," Microsoft said at the time.
"Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular data, this capability can be used across geographic locations.”
Teams Walkie Talkie accessories
While Microsoft Teams' walkie talkie functionality will work with many Android smartphone or tablet, it can also work better with a rugged smartphone (opens in new tab), as many of these devices include programmable buttons.
For instance, in a blog post (opens in new tab) from Samsung, the Korean hardware giant explained how Teams' walkie talkie feature can be mapped to the programmable button on its Galaxy XCover Pro (opens in new tab) or event its new Galaxy XCover 5 (opens in new tab) so that workers don't even need to unlock their smartphone to access push-to-talk (PTT) functionality.
Firstline workers can further augment Teams' walkie talkie feature by connecting either a wired or wireless headset (opens in new tab) and Microsoft points out in a support document (opens in new tab) that the Jabra BlueParrot and Klein Valor Speaker have both been validated to work with Teams Walkie Talkie.
To get started using walkie talkie in Teams when the feature rolls out in September 2021, you'll first need to open the app on your device and look for the Walkie Talkie icon in the navigation bar. If it's not there, don't worry as you can tap on More options to access it.
Microsoft offers a number of Teams phones (opens in new tab), with the likes of Lenovo, Yealink and Poly signed up as partner manufacturers.
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