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Push-to-talk is available on a few Nokia and Motorola handsets, and this feature has come to the iPhone for free in the form of two apps, iPTT and HeyTell.

iPTT allows you to talk with anyone who has downloaded the push-to-talk iPhone app, whether with friends or complete strangers. HeyTell allows you to talk only with people who have your personal contact information, such as your cell phone number or email address. We’re going to take a brief look at what each push-to-talk iPhone app has to offer, so that you can determine which one is right for you.

iPTT [iTunes link] is a relatively new app, and while there are still a few features that are lacking, it is definitely a step in the right direction. After downloading it from the iTunes App Store, you will be prompted to create a free account, and then you’re ready to talk to friends and strangers alike.

You can tune into one of the public channels to have a chat with random strangers, although you should be warned that the choice of topics can sometimes get pretty graphic, as this is an entirely anonymous and unmoderated way of talking to people around the world.

Tuning into a channel can be done, either by using the scroll wheel at the bottom of the screen, or by double-clicking the frequency itself to bring up the menu. From there you can select “Featured Channels” and scroll through the various channels which include iPhone, General Topics, iPad, politics along with channels dedicated for a variety of countries from the USA to Sweden to Oman.

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If you would rather talk to people you know, simply choose a frequency that is not already in use for one of the featured channels, and share it with your friends. The push-to-talk iPhone app could be very useful for conference calls or online team meetings, but there is no way to block people from entering the conversation. If and when disposable password protected channels are added, it would take iPTT to another level.

Communication in the channels can take place either in “Public Mode”, where everyone tuning in can hear you when you have the floor, or you can switch to “Whisper Mode”; for a private one-on-one chat with another person. If you’re in a public channel, be sure to mute the public chatter first. You can then choose the person you would like to talk to privately by scrolling through the list of members present using the same scroll wheel at the bottom of the screen.

Other features available in iPTT include an ignore list, where you can choose to block specific users, and you can also mute whispers so that no one is able to communicate with you privately. iPTT works over 3G and WiFi.

HeyTell

The only other free solution available for push-to-talk on the iPhone is the app called HeyTell [iTunes link]. HeyTell takes a very different approach than iPTT, and while you do not have to create an account, you do have to add your own number and email address to your contact list, which will be used as your identity.

The app makes use of the iPhone’s push notification, by alerting you when a friend has sent you a message, and upon launching the app, you will be able to start communicating with them.

When you want to speak, hold the orange button down, and the app will also begin to automatically record your conversation. HeyTell can be used simply as a way to leave a voice message for a friend, or if you are both online at the same time, it is a great way to have a conversation.

HeyTell also allows you to share your location with your contacts as you speak, if you choose to, using the inbuilt GPS feature. As the developers point out, this is a great option to have if your friends aren’t very good at giving directions.

HeyTell does afford you a lot more privacy than iPTT, allowing you to choose between three different levels. You can be contacted by anyone who has your phone number or email address, only by friends in your address book, or only by contacts whom you have already contacted.

The app is feature packed, allowing you to save and play back conversations, allowing you to block contacts, and it works over 3G, Edge and WiFi.

Have you used iPTT or HeyTell? Let us know what you think of them in the comments.

  1. Jason
    April 11, 2010 at 8:38 am

    It looks like Heytell is only available at the US store... shame cause it looks great for keeping in touch

  2. FameWolf
    April 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    You left out Palringo from palringo.com which works on iphone, windows mobile..pc etc.

    Frome their faq page:
    Palringo is the ultimate Instant Messaging client for mobile phones and computers.

    Now you can chat with all your buddies, no matter what IM they use, all from one universal Instant Messenger.

    * Windows Live Messenger ® (MSN)
    * AOL ® Instant Messenger (AIM)
    * Yahoo! ® Messenger
    * Google Talk â„¢
    * ICQ ®
    * Jabber ®
    * iChat® / MobileMe ®
    * Gadu-Gadu ®
    * Facebook Chat (Alpha)

    Express yourself in chat with emoticons and smileys to show your friends how you’re feeling.

    Send voice messages at the click of a button so your friends can hear your voice.

    Show your buddies what you’re looking at by sharing photos and pictures in chats.

    See where your friends are right now with location and let everyone know where you are.

    Create groups so you can send messages to everyone at the same time. Or search the existing groups to find chat rooms you’re interested in and meet new people.

    Broadcast what you’re doing and where you are with your status.

    Automatically update your status on social networking sites directly from Palringo.

    Palringo Instant Messaging - Bring your chats to life.