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Remember When Phones Were Walkie Talkies?

Remember When Phones Were Walkie Talkies?


– [Michael] You know what’s terrible? Phone calls. They take a lot of time, they meander, they make your ears sweaty, and if you miss one, you have
to deal with the only thing worse than a phone call. Voicemail. The cure for phone calls was
supposed to be messaging, but you know, that’s also
getting kind of terrible. All day, every day, is an
avalanche of notifications with time-consuming, tapped out messages volleying back and forth. There used to be something in
between these two extremes. It was called Push to Talk. You remember, it’s the
feature that instantly transformed the guy behind you in line into the worst person ever. (man talking loudly in background) – You’re outta your mind. (voice echoing) – [Michael] And maybe you’re
filled only with loathing for the time of walkie talkies on phones but I miss it dearly, because the whole idea behind
it was getting things done. (upbeat music) In fact, done was the whole
slogan of the industry leader in walkie talkie phones
circa 2004, Nextel. Full disclosure, I worked
for Nextel at the time so my recollections are no
doubt rosier than the reality. But even today, it’s tough not to admire the company’s bold,
aggressive advertising. As its VP of Marketing said
in an interview at the time, people use Nextel not
to chat and play games or send SMSes to girlfriends,
but to get things done. The state of Push to Talk has suffered since those halcyon days of mobile. Voice minutes are now largely
unlimited on most carriers, making the money-saving
aspect of PTT moot, and a network capacity crunch
and disastrous acquisition by Sprint didn’t do
Nextel any favors either. So diminished is the
importance of PTT that Sprint doesn’t even offer Push
to Talk phones for review. Fortunately for this video,
AT&T came to the rescue with a couple loaners. You may remember this phone from a video I published last summer. It’s simple, it’s rugged, and it’s got a big button on
the side for walkie talkin’. Now this is obviously more a
business product than anything. On its website, AT&T calls
out all the corporate uses for walkie talkies, like tracking your fleet of truck drivers or managing a squad of security personnel. If you want Push to Talk for your own personal or family plan, it’s still available for about
five bucks a month per line. That gets you unlimited access
on AT&T, Sprint or Verizon, though they’re not interoperable. And the way it works is this. You decide who you want to talk to, as you can see, my options
are pretty limited, and you push to talk. In about one or two seconds
usually, you’re connected. And that’s the beauty of this whole thing. You’re not waiting for a
regular call to connect and then ring through, and you don’t have to leave a voicemail if they’re not there. You just connect, talk, and
stop talking when you’re done. If they’re not there, well then maybe you send them a message. And because PTT uses the
same cellular network that voice and data do,
it works nationwide. No current offerings are
as fast as the old Nextel, which had a network built for the purpose, but it’s still faster than a phone call and a damn sight quicker
than tapping out a text. Now let me tell you why you hate it. Because jerks ruined it. There was a code of etiquette
that courteous users adhered to back in the day, and it had two huge important points. One, no barging. That means don’t just hold down
the button and start talking because it’s weird for the other guy, when his phone comes to
life with a human voice and he’s just trying to live his life. And two, no using the speakerphone when it might annoy other people. Here’s the thing that
nobody seemed to know. Every Push to Talk
phone has a privacy mode which disables the loudspeaker and lets you carry on a half duplex call through the earpiece. Push to Talk didn’t need to be intrusive. It was discourteous users that made it so. Today you don’t need special hardware to use your phone like a walkie talkie. Apps like Zello and Voxer
bring the functionality to any Android or iPhone. You don’t need to worry
about what carrier you’re on and they’ve taken it to the next level with social features. But you need to first
find and launch the app and then keep it running to
make sure it stays working. Those extra steps eliminate
some of the immediacy that made classic Push
to Talk so appealing where you could just push a couple buttons to be instantly connected. (phone beeping) Did you use Push to Talk back in the day? Is it still a part of your work today? Share your stories in the comments and be sure to subscribe
to Mr. Mobile on YouTube. Till next time, thanks for watching and stay mobile, my friends. (upbeat music fading)

100 thoughts on “Remember When Phones Were Walkie Talkies?”

  1. Only thing worse then messaging is getting caught up in a group text to you never wanted to be in and everyone except you is involved in the conversation

  2. While I admire how each year phones are becoming more powerful with better processors, more ram and better cameras I HATE the form factor Apple brought in vogue, touch screens are terrible for doing anything else than mindless browsing, while flip phones are great for talking though it sacrifices screen size, there must be a solution to this, to integrate a physical keyboard again and kill the goddamn touch screen which was nothing but a trend and it should stay only in e-readers.

  3. The apps in the end of your video are all nice and well but Wechat really is what is reviving this. Their user numbers are insane!

  4. Wow, yes PTT was great in the days, I truly do miss those days when everything was so simple and cool I would say.

  5. I remember this very well i first had a phone that could do that back when i had boost mobile for the first time then i switched to Verizon and i used this ability alot and i loved it now i have boost mobile again but they don't offer this anymore i wish they would bring it back

  6. I still use PTT. I have Motorola Talkabouts for handhelds and Midland MXT400 40 watt mobile radios for cars. No it doesn't have cellular coverage. Although the Midland radios have repeater compatibility (if available). I'm not living in the dark ages, I still have a smartphone. But I wish PTT would become more abundant in cellphones again like they were in the iDEN days. I'm happy with GMRS radios. They do the job and fun to talk on.

  7. i heard they got rid of the talkie because when cops tried to record the conversations it was difficult. its just a rumor

  8. Zello is widely starting to be used in the GMRS / FRS radio communities in EComm, You can patch in cheap radios to a PC running the app and bam, ghetto gateway.

  9. The chirp phone needs to come back. That was an amazing phone. I used to chirp just to talk to someone instead of texting, waiting for their reply even though my phone can tell me of they read it or not. PTT was amazing they were forced to answer

  10. I loved Nextel till mothafuckers were bleeping the fuck out my phone cause the was at the oncoming cross section. But it had and still has a place for people. Imagined your kid was a walkie talkie away all the time. And by all the time, I can’t remember even charging Nextel’s let alone one dying on me.

  11. Miss my Nextel PTT. So much easier and faster than sending a text. There's an app on the App stores (iPhone and Google Play) called "Prip" that is run by Nextel in South America… it's fast, but it will cost you $1.99/month/user on a monthly plan or $15.00/user on an annual plan. (http://prip.me). It seems to use the same Direct Connect Addressing as Direct Connect did with Nextel.

  12. I am still using PTT here on mexico, in a smartphone, with prip, that service you can use it if you pay with at&t mexico, and it's nice

  13. I miss the old Nextel big time oh yeah you're talkin Big League I miss Nextel push-to-talk Sprint come back with that as prepaid as well so that people can start talking again boost your prepaid provider should start using Nextel again I think it was a very big mistake to cut boost out of Nextel and then shut down the old PPT I'm looking for a day where I could PPT to Canada or anywhere else for that matter Sprint come back with a PPT walkie-talkie zeal

  14. The PTT is not dead yet and won't be dead because people like myself miss it terribly a lot of people you're talking about you just don't even know how many people miss the PPT see you later

  15. I have an idea how about we develop a walkie-talkie system that basically does the same thing like the old Nextel did instead that works on Verizon or AT&T or wherever and other company put on with with it would have been even to bring back walkie-talkie calls should be something that should impress a lot of people and we could use companies like Verizon or AT&T or T-Mobile or something like that to actually put the calls through now you should be able to make phone calls I would say no but that would defeat the whole purpose of this whole thing you should be able to make walkie-talkie calls and call people in the oven call business the business people in your business with your walkie-talkie another one of the business get a main code line a main code and then from there you log into a computer and each employee has their own code basically and of course I'm going to need a keypad like a telephone but its name going to be no telephone all right it's going to be and a company that you work for has to has to get lines and has to get everything and has to be able to punch in your code and but of course the company will have their own code and everybody can either make a group call if it like left hey hey John hey hey hey hey hey hey the old Nextel needs to come back in that way and I can't wait for that to happen again I need to come back to the company who the main user is it is the person who is giving out all the all the beeps or all the let's say you hate John what's up this is Central calling and basically what it what it is then John can reply but if they want to call everybody or if he's a manager or something he should be able to do what he has to do I make a group call or something but that doesn't mean that you can make phone calls or surf the Internet

  16. And again the reason for all this is because I miss the old Nextel dearly thanks Let's see we can do something thank you again

  17. My company only used nextel a few years back. I liked them, and they worked anywhere up in the mountains, the desert, or at the beach. They went away from that to I phones 😝

  18. When I was younger, I remember working for a guy in construction( yeah I know, but he was a friend of a family members church so I decided to help) and saw him using this feature to communicate with the rest of his crew almost instantly. I also remember the phone being built tough.

  19. But unfortunately paper lazy and anti-social so that wouldn't be for a lot of the population because of the anti socialism people prefer texting and that's what made this country so antisocial and dangerous

  20. Nice history lesson. I am specially looking for anything related to PTT, Nextel, Motorola, Direct Connect, etc. I remember meeting a friend in DC around 1999-2000 who was using a mobile device that was either a PTT or similar (she worked for Nextel in the product development division at the time and was using the phone like a walkie talkie). Somewhere in my brain I remember the term "Buzz or Buzz Me". It may have been the product name for the mobile device (again, guessing that it was Motorola).

    Long story. But at the end of 2000, I remember doing some sort of research using a computer – don't think there were search engines at the time – and found something that mentioned Nextel, Motorola, iDen, PTT, Buzz, Buzzer, etc all in one article.

    I have been searching for anything related to PTT using a specifically designed mobile device on a specifically designed network.

    Does anyone have any information???

  21. I still miss my old Nextel and will continue till the end of time, it was by far my favorite way to talk to my friends. I want Nextel back!

  22. yeah :))) its life fuckin apple removing da jack and making as paying $$$$$ to bring it back :))))

  23. Still have ptsd of riding the nyc subway in the early 2000s when these idiots used these 🙄. Always on the damn speakerphone

  24. You are right about uncourteous people.
    It was soooooo annoying, I couldn't stand it. And that beeping every time it ended. I never had one or interested. I would go to the store & people had them in there.

  25. Actually there are in fact some manufacturers that build Android devices that come with push to talk. However, they tend to make them exclusive for businesses like retail stores. I work for CVS currently (one day hopefully not LOOKING FOR A JOB PEOPLE! LOL) and they replaced the old big bulky gray price guns with a smaller easier to use Android device that comes with a push to talk button. Granted it's definitely a walkie-talkie situation where it'll only send out audio to all other devices paired with it in the store. BUT the functionality of push to talk is still there.

  26. Never left a comment before on any channel but man, I really do miss this, any chance of this every coming back on any network? It would be great to have a flagship smartphone incorporate this on there phone…like mapping the "Bixby" button to do this…that would be so awesome!

  27. As soon as you turn your phone on, zello works, my issue is the fact that you have to turn on your screen to access the PTT button.

  28. I remember using PTT to connect instantaneously to colleagues in Mexico and Brazil, and get things done! The mobile industry has taken communications backwards with their shit product evolution.

  29. I know this is a old video but I had Nextel in the pass but I use T-Mobile and me and my gf now and use HeyTell is easy and fast and supports Apple Watch ⌚️ on it so we can HeyTell from the watch no phone needed lol 😂 so Apple your not first to the Ptt game lol 😂

  30. Yes I did nextel I hate voice calling calling on cdma phones it was horrible and it's still is I like nextel better looking for sprint direct connect phone I try them good by apple

  31. It's a perfect solution for companies like security. To use radios long distances, its complicated and expensive for repeaters to be set up encrypted, etc…for a small company, ie. A private armored transport company, this provides a secure long distance solution on the cheap.

  32. I never used it but my dad had a Motorola I355 when i was born and my grandpa had a Motorola i580 black and yellow. Ahh i remember when my dad and grandpa two way one another. To this day i remember that NASCAR Nextel commercial that said magic

  33. I remember making phone calls on a handheld ham radio in the late 70's. Of course it weighed 5 pound and people looked at you like you were from mars. But it was cool.

  34. I loved this. It was cool af 2 me yet many ppl i knew didn't have em. I remember dialing random numbers tlkn 2 ppl & they actually chirped bk

  35. Man I miss nextel. We were able to communicate directly with who we needed to and got things done right then and there. Now typing a text or calling the crew on there cell phones sucks. 50 workers means 50 calls or group text. That sucks.

  36. I had Nextel and miss Nextel. Apparently someone is bringing it back at a decent price. I never did barge calls or use speaker in public.

  37. I never experienced the pleasure of having a push to talk phone, as I was on AT&T when it only exclusive to Nextel Via their iDEN network. Voxer was the closest thing I used when it was good but I was only limited to WiFi because I didn’t have unlimited data on my iPhone. After I switched to t mobile unlimited data, I gave zello a try and I fell in love. Now my iPhone 8 Plus doubles as a push to talk phone. Yes it’s not as refined as pushing an on board button, but it works well and there are no bugs. It’s great.

  38. Oh I loved PTT! Unfortunately I had too much fun with them, I used to random prank people with the PTT feature or just chirp a friend and just yell out something inappropriate 🤣

  39. Also if someone just kept tapping the button your phone would just keep chirping and you couldn't do anything until they would stop

  40. I remember the guys on Orange county choppers using this all the time. I wanted it but was too young and dumb to know what it was lol now its redundant tec 😅

  41. I remember PTT so vividly! The Apple Watch now has a PTT feature that I actually just discovered yesterday. It brought me back to those days and made me wonder if it’s making a comeback

  42. It was to get shit done. Fast and easy. Business communication.
    You forgot to mention the alerts. You don’t wanna come in like an intruder, you send a 4 beep notification to the other person and the other person just push and talk. Easy.

  43. What happened to Nextel the company? The reason i ask is that i work on cell towers and i see their abandoned equipment. Im not talking about a few cabinets either ive seen it all across the country , from california , Texas,Washington, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky,Tennessee, Georgia… I am just curious why they abandoned a billion dollars worth of equipment.

  44. I still have my nextel phones. You can use them as regular walkie talkie devices tho. I have I880's, I580's, older I90's, I85's. The I1000plus was a brick. you can put it through a wall and keep talking. Oh bring it back!!!

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