This week Apple announced iOS 16, which includes new features such as a revamped lock screen with widgets, expanded Focus Mode, iMessage improvements, passkeys, and much more. As well, iOS 16 offers multiple new APIs, including one that enables third-party apps to use walkie-talkies.
Push to Talk is a new API that lets iOS developers add walkie-talkie functionality to their apps. Apple demonstrated the new API at WWDC 2022 and documented how developers can use it.
As of now, iOS lets audio apps run in the background, but only for things like normal voice messages and even audio calls. The Push to Talk API allows audio messages to be sent and played in real-time, even in the background.
A walkie-talkie icon appears at the top of the screen when someone wants to communicate with you, while iOS displays the app icon and the name of the person speaking.
The messages are replied to in real-time with audio, or you can leave the conversation after you hear the message. Push to Talk can be used for individual conversations or even groups.
Apple Watch users are probably familiar with Apple Watch's Walkie-Talkie app, which is available by default with watchOS 5. Apple has changed its API with iOS 16, which works in a similar way, but it is different.
FaceTime Audio's messaging infrastructure allows Apple's Walkie-Talkie app to send and receive messages in real-time.
Developers using the new API have to implement their own backend to send and receive audio messages. It enables only a universal interface for walkie-talkie conversations that can even happen in the background.
Apple will certainly be able to bring an app similar to Walkie-Talkie on the iPhone and iPad in the future with this API. For now, however, this feature is supported by third-party apps
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