A report claims Apple has dropped a walkie-talkie feature for the iPhone had been in the works. It would have allowed people with iPhones to communicate over short distances without the need for cellular coverage, proving handy in remote locations.
The Information broke the news citing “two people familiar with the project” who said that the project leader Rubén Caballero had recently left Apple, slowing progress.
The mode would have relied on the 900-megahertz radio spectrum and acted as a walkie-talkie for text messages, not voice calls. But it would have allowed for texts with no cellular coverage within a certain short distance.
Inside Apple the project was known as Project OGRS, and at Intel as Project Shrek, as the source claims the tech would have relied on Intel cellular modems in as yet unreleased iPhones. It’s likely this would have been a feature of Apple’s first 5G iPhone that isn’t expected until 2020. This is because similar technologies are being developed by Qualcomm to work over LTE, but are designed for 5G networks.
While Qualcomm does not provide silicon to Apple, Apple’s own A series chips would have to likely incorporate 5G in order to develop such a technology.
The current Apple Watch Walkie-Talkie feature operates differently to this side-lined iPhone version, as the Watch app requires a cellular or Wi-Fi connection in order to work – a much less challenging communications process.
We’d love to see this feature crop up someday on an iPhone or on Android as it’d no doubt help those in remote working conditions communicate easier while adding a convenient free way of texting in general to those in close proximity.