Convert your phone into a walkie-talkie with the latest update in Microsoft Teams.
Push-to-talk is a highly popular feature in a lot of work environments. Most workers carry a walkie-talkie to facilitate communication in such environments.
Whether you’re a frontline worker or work in a customer service job running day-to-day operations, a walkie-talkie is often the device that keeps you connected to your teammates. Microsoft has now introduced the feature to their Teams app itself. So, employees don’t have to carry additional devices.
Many Microsoft Teams users have been asking for a push-to-talk button in meetings. You shouldn’t confuse the walkie-talkie option with that. Microsoft Teams meetings still don’t have a push-to-talk button where you stay on mute in the meetings unless you push the button to talk. And as soon as you release the button, you go back to being mute.
What is Walkie Talkie and How Does it Help?
The app design makes your phone work like a literal walkie-talkie. You don’t have to start any meetings in the Teams app to use this feature. You only need to connect to a channel in your Teams app and you can communicate over a walkie-talkie with other users connected to that channel.
Since communication happens in a channel, you can rest assured that no one else can have access to the content of the communication. Even users in your organization who are not a part of that channel will be privy to your communication.
Like a traditional walkie-talkie, you can use it at any time to communicate with another employee. But unlike a traditional walkie-talkie device, there’s no limit for range. As long as your device is connected to the internet, you can communicate over the walkie-talkie. It doesn’t matter how far the other person is.
Another benefit of using the walkie-talkie app in Microsoft Teams instead of the traditional devices is enhanced security. Since the connection is not analog, no one else can tune in to the same frequency and eavesdrop.
Who Can Use It?
The walkie-talkie feature is only available on the Microsoft Teams mobile app. You can use it on all iOS devices or Android devices with Google Mobile Services (GMS).
The app is also available for all types of paid licenses for the Teams app under Microsoft 365 subscriptions. The app isn’t pre-installed. It has to be enabled by the IT admins first so you can use it.
Although you can use the feature on any iOS or Android (GMS) phone, Microsoft has also teamed up with certain companies to introduce a dedicated Push-to-talk button on the device itself. These devices have a push-to-talk button just like the lock or volume buttons on your phone.
How Does Walkie Talkie Works in Teams?
The walkie-talkie in Microsoft Teams allows you to communicate with anyone in the channel who is connected to the walkie-talkie presently. Like traditional walkie-talkies, only one person can talk at a time. But all the others connected to the channel can listen. So, it allows you to communicate your message to more than one person at a time if they’re connected to the channel.
Unfortunately, the walkie-talkie feature is not available for one-to-one communications. You can only connect through channels.
The most important question that comes to mind is whether do you need to keep your phone unlocked at all times to be able to use the walkie-talkie in Microsoft Teams? Not at all.
As long as you’re connected to a channel, you’ll be able to listen to the communication in that channel even if your phone is locked.
Enabling Walkie Talkie in Microsoft Teams for an Organization
IT admins have to enable the policy for Walkie Talkie so that the end-users in an organization can use it. This gives IT admins control over who can use the feature in the organization.
To enable the policy for your organization, go to the Teams admin center and log in with the account that has admin access.
Click the option for ‘Teams apps’ from the navigation panel on the left.
Few options will expand underneath it. Select the option for ‘Setup policies’.
Click the policy where you want to add the feature. If you want to add it to a custom policy, select that policy. To add it for the whole organization, click the option for ‘Global (Org-Wide Default)’.
First, enable the toggle for ‘Allow User Pinning’.
Then under ‘Pinned apps’, click the ‘Add apps’ option.
A pane to add apps will appear on the right. Search for ‘Walkie Talkie’ and click the ‘Add’ button when the option appears.
Click the ‘Add’ button at the bottom of the pane.
The app will appear in the list of Pinned apps. You can also rearrange the order in which pinned apps appear. Once you’ve made any changes you want to, click ‘Save’ to add the app.
After you enable it, it can take up to 48 hours for the feature to appear in the mobile app for end users in your organization.
Using Walkie Talkie in Microsoft Teams
Once the IT admin for your organization adds Walkie Talkie to the policy, you can start using it in the mobile app. Open the Microsoft Teams app on your mobile device. Make sure you’re using the latest app, especially on iOS devices as the feature has only recently rolled out. It has been available for Android devices for quite some time, though.
Depending on how your IT admin has ordered the apps, you’ll either find the option on the navigation menu at the bottom of the screen or in the ‘More’ menu.
You can also reorder the apps so the option for walkie-talkie appears at the bottom of the screen for you if you want. But since there’s limited space for apps there, you will have to move some other option out of the way.
To rearrange the apps, tap the option for ‘Reorder’. Then, move the app to its desired place so it appears as a tab on the navigation bar at the bottom.
Otherwise, simply tap the option for ‘Walkie Talkie’ from More apps.
The interface for Walkie-Talkie will open.
To connect to a channel, tap ‘Channel’ at the top-left of the screen.
Then, select the channel to which you want to connect from the list of available channels.
Tap the ‘Connect’ button to connect to the channel. As long as you stay connected to the channel, you’ll be able to hear all communication in it.
You’ll be able to see the number of participants connected to the channel with the number next to the ‘Participants’ icon. This number would also include you. To see the list of people connected, tap the ‘Participants’ icon.
To speak, tap and hold the ‘Push-to-Talk’ button (the microphone icon). When you’re speaking, the push-to-talk button will have a circle around it, along with a ‘Live’ label to indicate you’re speaking.
Once you’re done talking, release the button so someone else can speak as only one person can talk at a time. The button would return to normal.
To disconnect from the channel, tap the ‘Disconnect’ button.
The feature for walkie-talkie can be useful in a lot of work environments. And Microsoft Teams makes it incredibly easy to use, with a simple yet intuitive interface.