Walkie Talkie Style Communication Comes to the iPhone

Walkie Talkie Style Communication Comes to the iPhone

As a kid, I loved playing with walkie talkies. Long before cellphones, or even cordless phones, it was a way to run around the neighborhood and play cops and robbers, astronauts and aliens, etc. I even got a CB radio for my car when I was 16. So embracing cellphones was no surprise, but I missed the push-to-talk feature. Now, there are a few ways to achieve this and it's not just about fun. If you are on the slopes, skiing or snowboarding, you will want to stay in touch with your friends. It could even be a matter of life or death, if there's an avalanche or you fall. That's why I'm so excited about the YodelUP Kickstarter offering that starts at a very reasonable $69.

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YodelUP is a wrist-mounted Bluetooth device with big, chunky buttons that you can operate with thick gloves, unlike an Apple Watch that would need special capacitive gloves or bare fingers. The device is quite stylish, coming in several bright colors as well as black. The device works in conjunction with a walkie talkie app on your iOS device, letting you stay in touch with your group using a dedicated button. There are other buttons as well that control music playback and volume. You can talk into the microphone on the YodelUP, like Dick Tracy, but you are expected to use earbuds to listen to other callers or music.

I used to have a similar device, from Monster, called the iEZClick. It required a dedicated 30-pin (for iPhone 4S and older) dongle plugged in to the iOS device, and let you control music playback, but it didn't offer the microphone or walkie talkie capabilities of the YodelUP. YodelTECH has partnered with Zello and its walkie talkie app, to harness push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) technology. The retail price of the YodelUP is expected to be $159, so act now, or check out its Facebook page for a chance to win one.

The YodelUP still relies on the cellular or Wi-Fi network. There is another alternative, dubbed the Beartooth, that acts as a personal off-the-grid communication platform. The device, about the size of a deck of cards, also acts as a 3000mAh USB battery pack and can let users talk, text, and find each other on a map. The Beartooth is normally $399 for a pair (and you would want at least two) but is initially 40 percent off, at $249. The device's range is two miles, and it works on the sub-1GHz license free bands. There is an app for iOS and Android.

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Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP, About.com, BestAppEver.com, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.