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How to use your Apple Watch's built-in Walkie Talkie

Whether you're yearning for the days of Nextel phones chirping away in people's pockets, or you need a quick way to immediately get in touch with friends and loved ones, Apple's got the perfect Walkie Talkie app built into your Apple Watch. Let us show you how to use it.
michael-gariffo
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on

In 2018, Apple added an incredibly handy new feature to the Apple Watch that didn't get the attention it deserved. This new communications tool, which was made available to all Apple Watches (even the Series 1), is an always-on Walkie Talkie app that let you immediately start up a voice conversation with any contact that also has an Apple Watch. 

Just like the walkie-talkie-equipped phones of the early 2000s, this app is a great way to chat across your home, or across the country, without ever having to worry about waiting for a call to be picked up. Of course, you don't always want your spouse, friend, or child piping up from your wrist. But, don't worry, Apple thought of that too. 

Let's take a look at how to set up and use the Apple Watch's built-in Walkie Talkie app to stay in touch with those your care about. 

How to use your Apple Watch's built-in Walkie Talkie 

3 Apple Watch SE models
ZDNet
  • Materials needed: You and at least one contact with an iPhone running iOS 12.4 or later (with FaceTime enabled) and an Apple Watch running WatchOS 5.3 or later
  • Estimated time: 1 minute for initial setup, basically instant for all subsequent connections
  • Demo video:

Step 1: Open the app and invite your first contact

2 screenshots of the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app

The screenshot on the left was taken in the "List View" version of the Apple Watch's app list, but the icon is identical in "Grid View"

Michael Gariffo

First, open your Apple Watch's App List by tapping the Digital Crown. Inside, find and tap the Walkie-Talkie app (in red on the left, above). If you've never used the app before, you'll need to add your first contact in order to connect with them. You can do this by tapping Add Friends (in red, on the right, above). When you do, you'll be presented with a list of your contacts. Tap one to send them an invite. Once they accept, you can proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Connect to your contact

2 screenshots of the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie app

Once your contact accepts, they'll show up in your Friends list, as seen above

Michael Gariffo

Once your contact accepts your invitation, they'll show up on your friends list. From there, you just need to tap on them to begin a conversation. If you were previously connected with another contact, or it's been a while since the last time you chatted with this contact, chances are it will take a few seconds for the Walkie-Talkie app to check their availability. If they're available (more on how to make yourself unavailable in the FAQ section below) you'll connect and can proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Start talking

Apple Watch's Walkie-Talkie app talk button
Michael Gariffo

Once you're connected with your contact, all you need to do is press and hold the helpfully-named Touch & Hold to Talk button and start speaking. Your voice will be transmitted to their Apple Watch after a short chirp. Another tone will sound when you let go of the button, letting the other participant in the conversation know they can speak. 

If you have mobility issues, or you'd rather just toggle your connection on and off with a single tap, you can enable this mode by going into the Settings app on your Apple watch and turning on Tap to Talk under the Walkie-Talkie section. With this mode enabled, one tap will open the mic and a second will close it.

Final step: Exiting the Walkie-Talkie app

You can exit the app and return to your Apple Watch's watch face by pressing its Digital Crown. Doing so will leave your the app running in the background, allowing any Friends in the Walkie-Talkie app to communicate with you at any time. Check out the FAQ section below on how to turn the app off completely when you don't want any audio interruptions.

FAQs

How do I make myself unavailable or disable the Walkie-Talkie app?

Apple Watch Control Center
Michael Gariffo

There are two ways to do this: 

  1. From your watch face, swipe up from the bottom of your display to open the Apple Watch's Control Center. In there, find the Walkie-Talkie icon. If it's yellow, that means the app is enabled and you are available. Tap it once to make yourself unavailable and disable the app. When you're ready to be available again, simply tap the grayed-out icon to re-enable it.
  2. From within the app itself, tap the Walkie-Talkie toggle seen on the top left in the image within Step 2. The toggle being on the right with a green indicator means the app is enabled and you're available, while the toggle being on the left and gray means you're unavailable.

How to I delete a Friend from the Walkie-Talkie app?

If there's someone you no longer want in your list of Friends in the app, all you need to do is find them in your Friends list and swipe left on their name. This will display a red X. Tap the X to delete the entry. You'll need to re-invite them if you'd like to contact them again from within the Walkie-Talkie app. 

Note: This action does not remove this person from your iPhone's contact list.

What do I do if I'm having trouble finding the Walkie-Talkie app or sending/receiving invitations?

It is possible to delete the Walkie-Talkie app from your Apple Watch. If you think you might have done this in the past, you just need to download it again from the App Store on your Apple Watch

The most common cause for issues with the Walkie-Talkie app itself is actually FaceTime on your iPhone. Walkie-Talkie relies on the same platform as FaceTime, meaning you and your contact will both need to have FaceTime installed and enabled

If you run into any problems, make sure both of you enable FaceTime, and double-check that you're both signed into FaceTime on your iPhones. Once you've done this, you should both restart your Apple Watches and iPhones. This should clear up the vast majority of difficulties with connecting and chatting.


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