How to Use Walkie-Talkie on Apple Watch

Connect to friends and family directly from your Apple Watch

Two white collar workers using tin cans on a string to communicate.

 Planet Flem / Getty images

Walkie-Talkie is a communication app for Apple Watch and, as the name, suggests is a real-time and direct way to talk back and forth with other Apple Watch users—similar to walkie-talkies of the past.

Walkie-Talkie works over an internet connection, so if you don't have the cellular connection Apple Watch, you need to be on Wi-Fi and have your iPhone nearby — same as data worked before.

These instructions apply to Apple Watches running watchOS 6 or watchOS 5.3 and iPhones with iOS 13 or 12.4 or later.

Get Started With Walkie-Talkie App

Walkie-Talkie demo functionality on watchOS 5

The Walkie-Talkie app comes bundled with watchOS 5.3 and later. You don't need anything other than an iPhone to get started. Both parties using Walkie-Talkie need to set up the FaceTime app on their iPhones (on iOS 12.4 or later) and be able to make and receive audio FaceTime calls.

Add or Remove Contacts From Walkie-Talkie App

Contact card in Walkie-Talkie app

To get started, open the Walkie-Talkie app on the Apple Watch and tap Add Friends to choose a contact. You are shown a list of potential contacts—those people who have a compatible and updated Apple Watch.

Select a person and wait for the contact to accept your invitation. After he or she accepts, you can talk to your contact instantly at any time. Walkie-Talkie is a direct path to your wrist and watch speaker, so you want to select the privileged contacts carefully. When someone adds you, you also have the option to allow or dismiss.

Slide left on a yellow contact card and tap the red X to remove someone after the fact.

How to Become Available or Unavailable

Toggle Walkie-Talkie availability
Toggle Walkie-Talkie availability.

Above the yellow Walkie-Talkie contact cards is a Walkie-Talkie toggle to use to become available or unavailable. If you are available, people can reach you at any time. Conversely, no one can make a Walkie-Talkie connection to you when you are unavailable.

Can Someone Start Talking to Me Anywhere, Any Time?

Even if you are available, you must allow a person to connect with you at the beginning of each session. That way, you know that the person has the potential to speak. After several minutes of no activity, the session closes until the next connection is made.

As such, people can't randomly yell things through your watch while you're in the middle of an important business presentation—not unless you explicitly allow that session when it begins.

Using the Walkie-Talkie App

After you add a Walkie-Talkie contact and your friend accepts, you can talk back and forth directly. 

Tap and hold the Talk button for the entire time you are speaking. When you're finished talking, let go. The person on the other end can press the Talk button after you let go.

The functionality and name are taken from old-style walkie-talkies, which only supported sending one transmission at a time. You had no way of speaking while the other person was holding down the button to talk.

The Yellow Icon, Explained

Yellow Walkie-Talkie icon on Apple Watch
Yellow Walkie-Talkie icon on Apple Watch. 

If you close the Walkie-Talkie app or navigate to something else on the Apple Watch while still connected to someone, a yellow icon appears at the top center of the Watch screen. This icon provides quick access to the app and conversation.

Tap it to go directly back to the Walkie-Talkie app.

Other Useful Information About Walkie-Talkie

  • Walkie-Talkie conversations are currently one-on-one, although you're free to engage in several simultaneous conversations with different people.
  • Use AirPods or wireless headphones directly with Apple Watch, and Walkie-Talkie conversations go through the headphones and not the Apple Watch speaker. People around you can still hear what you say out loud, however, just like when you talk on the phone.
  • The volume of the person speaking is adjustable with the digital crown when you are in the Walkie-Talkie app.
  • A connection remains persistent for about 5 minutes after the last communication before you are asked if you want to connect with that person again.