With SMS and instant messaging, does anyone still need a walkie talkie? Maybe not. But you’d never know it given Voxer’s popularity. The push-to-talk app is currently among the top free iPhone and Android apps, and its developer, Voxer LLC, says it’s processing more than 1 billion communications every day.
Voxer isn’t the first app to bring push-to-talk messaging to smartphones. For example, HeyTell (also free) by Voxilate for iPhones and Androids certainly has a lot of fans, judging by its user reviews (I haven’t tested the app). But Voxer is the cool newcomer, and it’s worth checking out.
With Voxer, you can send instant voice messages back and forth to other Voxer users on either platform over Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Voxer also lets you zap a photo or text message to your Voxer buds.
I tested Voxer 2.3.9 for iPhone as well as Voxer 0.9.4 for Android. Except for slight interface differences, the two apps are basically the same. I had a slight preference for the Android version, but only because my Android smartphone screen is one inch larger than my iPhone’s.
No doubt Voxer’s “hey you!” immediacy is appealing to younger demographics, especially given the app’s social network-ish interface. But I can see business types using it, too. Need to grab a colleague’s attention right away? Want to blast out a quick voice message, text, or pic to a group of coworkers? Voxer is your app.
The push-to-talk capability worked well in my tests, and it’s certainly easy to use: Just keep your finger on the ‘Hold and Talk’ button while you speak. I doubt anyone would want to carry on a conversation lasting more than a few sentences, however. A standard phone call is much more efficient.
But sometimes, all I want is a quick verbal exchange–no chit-chat, please. Come to think of it, I guess there is a need for walkie talkies. Over and out.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.