Remember how much fun walkie talkies seemed like when you were a kid? Being able to converse with your friends from a distance seemed like a huge novelty at a time when many of us couldn't imagine the idea of kids having their own phones. If both you and your friend own Apple Watches, you can capture that same sense of glee with Apple's Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie feature.
It's a feature that might seem a little gimmicky on the surface but is actually very useful in certain scenarios.
Read on as we explain all about it and, if you don't already own an Apple Watch, read our guide to the best Apple Watch.
What is the Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie app?
The Walkie-Talkie app is kind of like a cross between text messaging and making a phone call in terms of its practicalities. It works like a walkie-talkie with a push-to-talk system that means you simply press the button on your Apple Watch to talk, and your voice is immediately played out on the Apple Watch speaker of the recipient.
Unlike a phone call, you can't talk over each other. You have to take it in turns to push to talk. That might sound old-fashioned, but it's pretty useful at times. For instance, you can use it to quickly relay information to someone while they're shopping ('don't forget the bread!') or to check in with your kids to tell them to come home. Best of all, because you have to push the button to talk, it means you can't hear what's going on around the recipient. That means you can get right to the point without being distracted by background noise, and the other person retains their privacy.
The Walkie-Talkie app isn't designed for conversations, but if you simply want to relay a message quickly and you're worried a text message won't be noticed (or it feels too long to type), it's a great way of getting to the point quickly.
What do I need to use the Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie?
Well, you both need to own an Apple Watch. Any model from the Apple Watch Series 1 or later will be fine, providing it's running WatchOS 5.3 or later. That includes the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch Series 5, Apple Watch SE, oh, and the latest and greatest Apple Watch Series 6.
You also need to have FaceTime set up your iPhones and be able to make and receive audio FaceTime calls. That also means you need to have an internet connection – either via Wi-Fi or the mobile connection your Apple Watch may possess, depending on the model.
Certain countries cannot use the Walkie-Talkie feature with this comprehensive list (opens in new tab) should be able to help you there. All European countries along with the UK, USA and many more can use it, so you should be okay.
How to start using the Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie
To use Walkie-Talkie, you need to add some friends to converse with. It doesn't take long at all. Here's how to do it.
1. Open the Walkie-Talkie app on your Apple Watch.
2. Either scroll up to find a contact to add or turn the digital crown to find them.
3. Tap their name then tap Add Friends.
4. Once they've accepted your request, you can talk to them at any time.
It's worth being picky about who you add. Once they're added, they can talk to you fairly readily which might not be ideal depending on the friend. You can always choose to temporarily switch off Walkie-Talkie (or indefinitely) by toggling its switch from the main Walkie-Talkie screen if you want to be undisturbed for a time.
At the start of each session, you have to allow them to connect with you, so this is one method of retaining your privacy. If neither of you communicates for about five minutes, the session closes until you opt to restart it.
How to talk via the Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie
Now you've added a friend to Walkie-Talkie, it's straightforward to talk to them. Just tap and hold the Talk button for the entire time you're speaking. Release the button when you're done, and the other person can also take their turn in speaking.
What else do I need to know about the Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie?
It's strongly recommended that you connect wireless headphones to your Apple Watch, whether they're Apple AirPods or something else. That way, the Walkie-Talkie conversation you receive goes straight to them instead of the Apple Watch speaker. You won't have to worry about people around you hearing what's been sent to you.
Want to remove a friend? Open the Walkie-Talkie app, swipe left on their name then tap Delete. Expect a little social fallout if they're someone you know well and they notice. We won't tell anyone.