The Apple Watch Walkie Talkie feature has been around for a few years now. It works similar to the traditional thing, allowing for constant voice communication between two people. If you’ve not been using it till now, perhaps you should try it out. It’s a fun and super-simple way to link up with others.
Here’s everything you need to know. From initial setup to troubleshooting, and everything in between.
How does the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie feature work?
Apple introduced the Walkie talkie app with the launch of WatchOS 5 back in 2018. This was one of the biggest add-ons to come from that version of the operating system.
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The feature reminds a lot of the good old Walkie Talkie. Those of us old enough to remember will know what this is about.
Put simply – it is constant voice communication. You pick a friend you want to communicate with, get their one-time approval to connect and you’re good to go.
From that point on, whenever you want, you can connect with the person like you would with a traditional walkie-talkie. The audio is pretty good quality and it works both over cellular or Wifi.
And while the feature works well, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The Cupertino-based outfit was forced to pull Walkie Talkie for a few weeks in 2019 due to eavesdropping concerns.
The company spotted a bug that could allow someone to listen through another customer’s iPhone without consent. Luckily all the security holes were plugged quickly, and the feature was added back in. Since then there were no such security scares which should give you confidence to use it.
How to set up and use Apple Watch Walkie Talkie?
To start off, you’ll need to make sure the software your watch is running on is at minimum watchOS5.3. Considering we are already on version 7 with watchOS 8 due to land in September, you are probably running on a compatible version.
The other software requirement is that you have at least iOS 12.4 installed on your iPhone. Once again, this should not be a problem as this OS version is a couple of years old now. We are expecting iOS 15 to land this Fall.
Finally, you also need to have FaceTime installed on your iPhone. This is because Walkie Talkie works as a Push-to-Talk FaceTime audio connection. So if you’ve deleted FaceTime from your phone, you will need to re-download and install it. Then make sure it is turned on in the Settings app and that it is working. The best way to do the latter is by making a call to someone.
As far as hardware, you’ll be glad to know that most watches can run the Walkie Talkie app. The only exception is the first Apple Watch. If you’re still holding on to it, you’re out of luck. Those with Series 1 and above are good to go.
It’s worth mentioning. The Walkie Talkie app is not available in all countries. But it is available in most. Apple maintains a list that shows which countries can access the app. More than 100 countries are there at the time of writing this article, hopefully you live in one of them.
Okay, you’re running the correct software on both your smartphone and Apple Watch and live in a country that can access Walkie Talkie. The first step is to enable the feature.
This is done by opening the Walkie Talkie app. You’ll notice a toggle – make sure it is set to on. The other way to turn the feature on or off is by going into the Control Centre on your watch, and tapping the Walkie Talkie button.
If the Walkie Talkie is set to off but you had earlier added connections and they are trying to contact you, you’ll still get a message. A notification will appear asking if you’d like to chat. Tap on it and the functionality will kick in.
For more customisation options, use the Do Not Disturb mode. This mirrors your iPhone settings so you can decide which Walkie Talkie alerts to allow and which not to allow. For example, you can turn Walkie Talkie off automatically after an hour, or when your location changes.
You can also add the feature as a watch complication. This providers a quicker way of accessing the app.
Remember, in order to be able to talk to someone on Walkie Talkie, you’ll need to add them as a connection first. This is simple to do.
To start, you will need to open the Walkie Talkie app. Tap on the Add Friends button next to the plus sign. Choose a contact.
You can only talk to people that approve the connection. So you’ll need to wait for the person to accept your request.
You’ll know whether they have accepted the invitation by the colour of the contact card. If it is Grey your friend has not accepted the invitation yet. It will also appear in the “Friends You Invited” section.
When they approve the connection, you’ll see a yellow card around their name. Now you can connect to them. All the individual contacts can be swiped through for easy access – they are in card format. So just flick through them.
Deleting a friend is easier than connecting to a new one as you don’t need their approval. Simply swipe left on a person’s name and tap the delete option.
The other way to do this is via the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Go to the Walkie Talkie section, choose Edit and delete the person by tapping the minus button and then Remove.
The other way to build your list of contacts is to accept invites. In this case you’ll get a notification. If you’re quick and spot it in real time, simply choose the Always Allow option. If you didn’t spot it in the first instance, it will be sitting in the Notification Centre. Approve it from there or in the Walkie Talkie app.
The person will be added to your list of Walkie Talkie contacts. All the delete options from above are applicable to accepted invites, as well.
Beauty is in simplicity and Apple has a knack of doing things this way. Initiating a conversation with an existing contact couldn’t be easier. Remember, as Walkie Talkie works over WiFi or cellular, so you will need one of these two connections in order for it to work.
To start a conversation open the Walkie Talkie app on the Apple Watch and choose a contact. If that person is wearing their Apple Watch, has the Walkie Talkie enabled, and has an active WiFi or cellular connection, they’ll receive an alert that you want to chat with them. If they are not available, you’ll get a message to that effect.
Wait for Walkie-Talkie to connect. You’ll know that you can talk when the “connecting” message on the screen has disappeared.
Everything is handled by the speakers and microphones on the Apple Watch. Having said that, you can use AirPods to connect to your watch and then use the Walkie Talkie. This might be a better way of communicating if you are outside.
To say something touch and hold the talk button. When you’re done, release the button. Your friend should be able to hear your voice in real-time and reply to you. You’ll hear a playback of what they’ve said – this auto-plays.
Volume control is achieved by rotating the Digital Crown. The sound quality is pretty good. However, when you’re out and about it might be a bit difficult to hear.
The simple answer to this is no. But as mentioned above, you do need at least a live WiFi connection and your iPhone nearby. The feature is not magic – it needs the internet in order to send and receive audio. A cellular connection allows you to chat without connecting to WiFi.
The quick answer to this question is that there is no range or limit. People sometimes have this question as they are thinking of the traditional Walkie Talkie where you can only talk to a person who is close by.
With Apple Watch Walkie Talkie – you can talk to someone at the other end of the globe. Distance is irrelevant. Because it works over the internet, there is no range or limit.
You can do group chats by using FaceTime on an iPhone. It accepts up to 32 people. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Walkie Talkie uses FaceTime, you can only chat to one person at a time.
Troubleshooting common Apple Watch Walkie Talkie issues
If you can’t see the Walkie Talkie app on your Apple Watch it could be because of a few things. Go through the checklist. When you do these steps, make sure to restart both your Apple Watch and iPhone afterwords. A system reboot ensures the new settings are applied correctly.
You might be getting a “checking availability….”message, or a “connection failed message”. Or your friend might not be getting your Walkie Talkie invite.
Try all the troubleshooting steps from above and restart your iPhone and Apple Watch. If it is still not working locate the “you can be reached by FaceTime at” section in the iPhone phone Settings section. Make sure that your email address is selected and that you are signed in with your Apple ID.
For connection invites that are not going through, try sending them again. The best way to do this is to delete the person from the list of added contacts in the Walkie Talkie app and adding them back in. Then resend the invite.
One more troubleshooting fix is to do with Apple. Sometimes its services go down. Check that the Face Time servers are running smoothly. This can be done via the Apple System Status page. Make sure it is Green.
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