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Hands-on: Walkie-Talkie on Apple Watch with watchOS 5 beta 2 [Video]

After appearing as a placeholder in the initial iOS 12 developer beta, Walkie-Talkie is now functional in iOS 12 beta 2. After testing it I was able to add new contacts, accept new contact requests, and both send and receive audio messages. Watch our hands-on walkthrough for a look at what to expect from this exciting new Apple Watch feature.

When you launch the Walkie-Talkie app on your Apple Watch, you’ll be met with a scrollable list of all of your contacts. Simply tap on a contact to request Walkie-Talkie access to that contact. The recipient, if running a compatible version of watchOS, will then receive a request stating that the contact wants to talk with you over Walkie-Talkie. Recipients have the option to Always Allow or Dismiss the request.

Video walkthrough

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Once a contact is added to your list of Walkie-Talkie recipients, the same contact will appear in the paired iPhone’s Watch app under the Walkie-Talkie panel. Users can delete a recipient via the Watch app, or via simple swipe gesture on the contact card within the Walkie-Talkie app on Apple Watch.

The Walkie-Talkie app interface on Apple Watch is extremely simple and easy to use. Bright yellow contact cards appear for each Walkie-Talkie recipient, along with a bright yellow plus button below your list of cards to add additional contacts. As mentioned, a simple left swipe gesture on a contact card will reveal a red ‘x’ for quickly deleting a contact.

Scrolling up to the very top of the Walkie-Talkie interface will reveal an Available toggle, for quickly turning the Walkie-Talkie feature on an off. If you’re in a place where it’s not practical to engage in conversation, then the Available toggle is a handy one. When you switch to unavailable mode, the Walkie-Talkie contact cards will change from bright yellow to gray, but tapping one of the cards will immediate switch availability back to on.

When you tap on a contact card, you’ll be taken to the talk screen, which allows you to facilitate conversation. A huge TALK button dominates the Apple Watch display. To send a message, simply press and hold the talk button for the duration that you wish to speak. Once you’re finished speaking, release the button and your message will be sent to the recipient.

Received Walkie-Talkie messages are automatically played upon receipt via the Apple Watch speaker, similar to a real Walkie-Talkie, or one of those old Nextel phones. It’s a really cool way to engage in “in the moment” conversation with your friend.

Volume can be adjusted from the talk screen by turning the Digital Crown up and down. Of course, if you want some privacy, it’s also possible to engage in Walkie-Talkie conversation via AirPods or other connected Bluetooth headphones or speakers.

One thing that’s a bit weird when using AirPods is that there is a slight static sound in the background that’s almost like you’re on a phone call. This makes sense, considering that Walkie-Talkie uses FaceTime as a backbone for its conversations.

A shortcut to the Walkie-Talkie app appears at the top of every watch face while the app is being used, allowing you to quickly get back to the app with just a tap.

Even when you force close the app, it’ll automatically open if you receive a new Walkie-Talkie message. Watch the video above for a demonstration of that in action.

Walkie-Talkie works via iPhone connection, and Wi-Fi. As a Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE owner, I also tested out Walkie-Talkie via cellular and it worked as well!

Walkie Talkie was first introduced during the initial unveiling of Apple’s wearable, but it’s just now appearing on the Apple Watch with watchOS 5 beta 2. Functionality is a bit finicky at this stage, but that’s to be expected given that it’s a beta. It’s been a long time coming, but after testing it out for a few an hour or so, I couldn’t help but smile at how easy it was to use, and how it really puts you in the moment. It may have taken Walkie-Talkie a few years to get here, but it appears that it was worth the wait.

What do you think about Walkie-Talkie on Apple Watch? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts.

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