Apple Watch has struggled to find its place in the world. When watchOS was first introduced to the world, it can with a new way of staying in touch with your friends. The Side button was dedicated to sending heartbeats and digital drawings to your friends. Safe to say, it didn’t really work out. Side button was quickly remapped as the Dock and Apple Watch doubled down on the two things it does best: fitness and notifications.
But now in the fifth iteration of watchOS, Apple is starting to bring some of the communication features back to the Apple Watch. Now that Apple Watch has cellular support, it makes more sense. And this time, Apple is doing it in an interesting and fun way – hitting you with just the right amount of nostalgia.
How to Turn Your Apple Watch Into a Walkie-Talkie
How Walkie-Talkie App Works
When watchOS 5 is released to the public this fall (you can install the public beta right now if you want to play with new features before everyone else), it will come with a new preloaded app called Walkie-Talkie.
The way the Walkie-Talkie app works is a bit peculiar. You can talk to a contact on a one to one basis. There’s no group chat support but you can converse with multiple users at the same time.
Once you’ve established a connection with another Walkie-Talkie user, the Walkie-Talkie app will keep running in the background. You’ll see a little yellow app icon on the top of the watch face. You can tap it to go back right into the Walkie-Talkie app. To end the connection one of the users has to mark their status as unavailable. Let’s take a closer look at the app’s functionality.
The Weird Part
When you receive a message, and you’re marked as Available on the Walkie-Talkie app, the message will just play automatically. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the watch face or in the Walkie-Talkie app. The only way to stop this is to turn off the Available status.
This feature means that the Walkie-Talkie app is designed as an active communication method, not a passive one. If you’re thinking you can use this as an asynchronous method of talking, like the voice messages feature in iMessage, it won’t work out for you. If you’re in public space, make sure you’ve turned off the Available status on the Walkie-Talkie app. The last thing you want is your friend’s voice randomly shouting from your wrist.
How to Add Friends to Walkie-Talkie
Step 1: Find the Walkie-Talkie app from the app launcher. The icon looks like a Walkie-Talkie.
Step 2: When you launch it for the first time, you’ll just see a list of all your contacts. Use the Digital Crown to quickly jump through your contacts and select one who is using an Apple Watch running watchOS 5.
Step 3: They’ll be added to the app’s main screen. The contacts here show up in yellow cards. Tap on a contact.
Step 4: Press on the Talk button and speak your message.
Step 5: Now the Apple Watch will try to make a connection to the contact. Once the message is sent, you’ll get back the Talk screen again.
Step 6: When someone wants to send you a message or adds you, you’ll receive a notification. Tap on Always Allow to add them to the Walkie-Talkie app.
Step 7: There’s a way to turn off Walkie-Talkie for a while as well. Swipe up in the list of contacts and tap on the Available toggle.
How To Send Messages in Walkie-Talkie App
Step 1: Tap on the contact from the list you want to send a message to.
Step 2: Tap and hold on the Talk button for the entire time you’re speaking.
Step 3: After you let go, the Walkie-Talkie app will try to establish a connection to the other contact. While it’s happening, you’ll see pulsating circles on the screen. Once the message is sent, you’ll be back on the Talk screen.
Step 4: When you get a message in Walkie-Talkie app, the Apple Watch will give you haptic feedback. If you’re inside the Walkie-Talkie app, you’ll hear an audio feedback as well.
Step 5: As the message you receive starts paying automatically, there’s nothing much to do in this step.
How to Turn Off Available Status in Walkie-Talkie
The only way to stop your friends from randomly talking out loud to you is to turn off the Available status.
From the app’s home screen, swipe up to the top and tap on the toggle next to Available.
Will You Be Using the Walkie-Talkie App?
Sure, the app has its quirks and it’s fairly limited in its scope as well. But do you see yourself using the app to talk with a friend using Apple Watch? Share with us in the comments below.