If watching the kids in Stranger Things communicate via walkie-talkie left you wishing it was still the 80s, we’ve got some good news. Walkie-talkie apps bring all the excitement of walkie-talkie chat to your smartphone, allowing you to talk to your friends, send them messages, and leave voicemails. Of course, they don’t use real walkie-talkie frequencies — so you won’t get any interference — but they’re still the coolest, most retro way of talking with your friends. There are even apps that allow you to talk with users in your area and worldwide.
Voxer, Two Way, and Walkie-Talkie are just a few of the options available. Turn your Android or iOS device into a digital walkie-talkie with our hand-picked selection of the best apps.
Zello is one of the most well-known walkie-talkie apps on the market, and it’s most people’s go-to for a walkie-talkie experience. Part of the reason why it’s so popular is because of its usability. It’s easy to import contacts, and tapping on one displays the option to talk displayed front-and-center. You can talk directly with individual people, or you can create a group channel for your friends or work groups. If you’re feeling particularly social, you can even join a specialized channel to chat about specific topics, from cats to local areas. Voice messages will be played out immediately if the app is open, or played later through a voicemail-like system, so you can pick up your messages when convenient.
It’s packed with features and has been updated to work with the Twiins Smart Button. You can also send text messages, images, or alerts. One useful feature is the ability to set a volume level for each user — which is especially handy in group channel talks with those particularly noisy people. There are some issues. It won’t work if you use a mobile VPN, and has trouble with some open Wi-Fi networks — but it’s otherwise the best option available.
ProPTT2 Video Push-to-Talk
Push-to-talk audio is one thing, but push-to-talk video is absolutely another. ProPTT2 is an excellent walkie-talkie app with the ability to transmit video blasts as easily as audio. You can chat in groups or one-to-one, and you’re able to search for and join groups for a variety of interests. We’re particularly fond of the look, which eschews the bright colors of many other walkie-talkie apps, instead opting for a sleek, technical style. It has support for various PTT devices and the Apple Watch, and you can access various chat features like real-time location sharing. You’ll need to sign up to use the app’s features properly, and you only get to make one channel for free, but as long as you sign up some friends, you should have enough to go around. Recent updates include support for dark mode. A 30-day pass to the Pro features will set you back $4.
We love walkie-talkie apps, but too many of them don’t also have room for the more traditional messaging methods. If using an app that has walkie-talkie functionality seems odd to you, maybe check out Voxer. It’s built more like a traditional instant messaging app, and includes threaded view text chat and support for sending images, and is one of the only walkie-talkie apps to have end-to-end encryption. Unfortunately, there’s no option to broadcast to channels like Zello, but you can still create group chats if you need to contact a bunch of people at once. It’s not bug-free though, and users complain about a bunch of fairly annoying bugs. Still, they tend to be relatively minor, like double notifications. Basic access is free, but you’ll need to upgrade to a Pro account for the best features, including a hands-free mode, voice-to-text transcription, the ability to recall sent messages, and more. Pro access costs $4 a month, or $30 for a year.
VoicePing is a fairly simple app — that’s because it’s designed primarily for business users. It can be used by anyone with an Android or iOS device, and it’s built to resemble a more traditional messaging app — but there’s more here than the chat app interface. Voice messages can be played from any contact at any time — even with the screen off and phone locked, and you can choose to chat one-to-one, or pick up to 200 contacts in a group chat. Advanced features allow you to ping specific contacts for attention, or take control of a group chat with an SOS message. It also works with headsets with PTT buttons, making it extremely useful for certain business users.
One of the purer versions of a walkie-talkie app, Breakr commits itself to talking and very little else. It’s as easy to use as you’d expect; hold the button down, talk, and release the button to send your message. But there are devils in these details. Can’t talk? Type your message and it’ll be read out to your recipient with Breakr’s text-to-speech service. There’s a voice changer if you’d prefer to chat anonymously (or just say something in a silly robot voice), and the 24-hour chat history means you shouldn’t miss a message. The downsides? There’s no real text chat option, and it’s iOS-only, so you’re limited to only chatting to friends with iPhones.
A much simpler app than some of the other entries on this list, Two Way is the walkie-talkie app of choice for the extrovert. There’s no option to pick-and-choose individual contacts, and you can’t send text messages or images. Instead, you can pick a specific geographical area (local or national) and broadcast to that area. As such, you’re opening your broadcasts for absolutely anyone else to hear and respond to. So don’t be surprised when you start getting replies from people you don’t know. If you love starting conversations with strangers, then this is an excellent way to do so — and thanks to the way the app is set up, you do so without any risk of giving away intimate details of yourself. Thankfully, if you want a more private conversation you can head into the Key Pad feature and choose a channel to chat in instead. The huge selection of channel numbers should mean you won’t have to share with anyone else. There are reports the app doesn’t work properly on Android 9.0 Pie and Android 10, but if you turn off Battery Optimization you shouldn’t have an issue.
Walkie-talkie — Communication
Maybe you don’t need all the extra messaging options, the “listen later” messages, or friends lists. If everything up to this point is too over the top for you, then Walkie-talkie is the minimalist app for you. It’s simply a walkie-talkie app — boot it up, key in your chosen frequency, and away you go. There’s no messing around with remembering usernames and passwords to log into an account, which makes it perfect for anyone who just wants to download and go. All you need to do is open the app and start speaking. Walkie-talkie happens to have a cute design, too, with an interface that mimics the old-style plastic style of walkie-talkies for a touch of nostalgia. But because of that minimalism, there’s little to the app outside of the obvious. You can listen to different frequencies and change the background color, but that’s about it. It’s also only available on iOS — though there is a website version, which we couldn’t get to work. Still, it’s a fun little app if you’re looking for something without the same level of commitment as the other apps.
Walkietooth stands out from other apps on our list for its money-saving versatility. While other apps are shackled by their need for a data connection, Walkietooth uses a variety of other connections instead. Walkietooth can make use of a device-to-device connection with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or a direct connection through a shared Wi-Fi network. Although you can keep it strictly a voice connection, you also have the option to add video to the call at any time. While video calling doesn’t align with a walkie-talkie concept, this added feature could convert your walkie-talkie into a multi-use device. For example, you could use an older device as a baby monitor if you’re not hugely into walkie-talkies. While Bluetooth and other options won’t be as good in a house or urban area, it could be a good choice for motorcyclists out on the road if there’s no mobile data but little to block a Bluetooth connection. This one is definitely a niche choice, but it’s worth considering if you fit into the target audience or are willing to think outside the box. Unfortunately for iPhone users, this app is only available for Android, and it doesn’t look like Walkietooth will be making an iOS version anytime soon.
Available on iOS and Android, HeyTell is a good cross-platform option for contacting a wide variety of friends. Unlike many other walkie-talkie apps, HeyTell comes with Facebook connectivity, so it can use your profile to link you to friends already on the platform. This feature makes it extremely easy to get a group up and running on the service. Additionally, there’s no shortage of security because HeyTell included a robust three-tiered privacy system. Yet another example of HeyTell’s security in action is a voice-changing feature that distorts and anonymizes your voice to hide your identity. The downside is that it’s a very old app that hasn’t had an update since 2016. But it’s still got plenty of features, even if there are quite a few caveats to make sure they work. These are all detailed on the app pages, so make sure to check there if you try it out and end up having issues. Even though you can make this outdated app work for you by putting in some extra effort, there’s a reason it’s last on our list.
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