Is 2012 primed to be the year of the walkie-talkie app?
As a guy who couldn’t stand hearing loud conversations on the bus back at the height of the Nextel two-way days, I kind of hope not. But a recent story from TechCrunch that notes investors are lining up to throw money at the Voxer Walkie-Talkie app has me nervous already.
What sets the free Voxer app apart from the other walkie-talkie apps available is that it does a little bit of everything. It works like a live walkie-talkie, as the name suggests, but it also lets users send text and photos. It even supports group chat. And it works over 3G or Wi-Fi, so you don’t have to be connected via Bluetooth to reap the benefits. In short, it’s a fairly serious contender for someone looking to recreate the Nextel experience.
Voxer isn’t the only app bringing about this renaissance, either. It might be the hot app in the news right now but there are several other walkie-talkie apps that are vying for a piece of the market, too.
Blip.me walkie-talkie (free) also supports group chat, allowing you to send and receive voice messages to large groups of people. But unlike Voxer, Blip.me’s walkie functions are more akin to trading voicemails back and forth and not as instantaneous as its competition.
If you’re interested in having conversations with two-way radio operators in the HAM & CB world, Hollr ($0.99) is an interesting option. The app promises to let users communicate with other two-way radios using a USB radio gateway. While not an app for the casual user, it would certainly come in handy if you need to communicate with a specific radio system.
For something a little simpler, TiKL (free) offers one-on-one, instant, push-to-talk voice chatting over one of the most ordinary looking interfaces you’ll ever see. Of course, it’s hardly relevant if the app itself looks a little boring as long as it works. TiKL offers free Wi-Fi, 3G, EDGE and GPRS push-to-talk service across multiple phone platforms with no SMS or voice minutes required.
Meanwhile, Walkie Talkie – Wifi & Bluetooth (free) lets you use your Bluetooth connection to communicate with any other nearby walkies, though there is a two-person maximum. The app also supports Wi-Fi, but both iPhones must be on the same network to communicate with one another.
Sure, Voxer may be the lead dog today, but the walkie-talkie app field isn’t likely to lay down and concede defeat. If you’re into loud two-way conversations, this is one battle worth keeping an eye on.