Multimedia-messaging application company Voxer today announced the availability of “Walkie Talkie” mode for Voxer Business users that is designed to transform smart iOS and Android devices into push-to-talk (PTT) devices for live communications via IP connectivity.

Earlier this year, San Francisco-based Voxer launched its Voxer Business offering, which provides enterprises with the ability to have administrative controls—for instance, the ability to create teams, as well as add and delete users—over its service for $9.95 per user per month, according to Voxer President Irv Remedios. With today’s announcement, Voxer Business will include the company’s “very unique and interesting” push-to-talk functionality for no additional cost, he said.

“When you hit the talk button, we are simultaneously sending audio to the other person or group, and we’re storing it,” Remedios said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “So, you have the live communication that you have in a push-to-talk experience; the other person can be listening immediately, as soon as you hit the talk button. Or, if they’re not available, they get a notification, and they can go into the app when they are ready to respond and respond to you later.

“So it has both the real-time aspect of live communications, plus the etiquette of a messaging tool.”

Unlike other messaging applications that have enabled voice support, the Voxer push-to-talk offering is designed primarily for voice—so voice is not “a second-class citizen”—and it begins transmitting the voice immediately instead of using techniques that introduce latency, Remedios said.

“The thing about some of these tools [from other messaging providers] is that you’re hitting a button and recording a message, and you’re saving a file to your phone,” he said. “You’re then transmitting that file to somebody else, they’re downloading it, listening to it and then responding. So the latency involved there is quite high.

“What we’re doing is transmitting immediately as soon you hit the talk button. So you can be listening while I’m still talking.”

Voxer’s push-to-talk offering supports group calls that can be broadcast to as many as 500 users simultaneously, Remedios said. Unlike traditional push-to-talk, more than one user can speak at the same time, he said.

“What we find is that the push-to-talk tools that [Voxer customers] used in the past inherently have a lot of limitations that they really didn’t like, … including the channel basically being locked down, if somebody was speaking on it,” Remedios said. “With Voxer, you can have multiple people speaking at different times, and you would hear those messages as they came in . That’s a helpful addition for people.”

With the “Easy Talk” widget for Android users, Voxer Business users can send and receive push-to-talk communications without even opening the application, Remedios said. In addition, users can monitor multiple channels at the same time without risking that a message will be missed, he said.

“If there are three, four or five channels that are important to you, you can swipe between those channels and either review messages or send messages to them, without unlocking your screen on Android,” Remedios said. “So, it gives a lot of power to an Android user to be able to quickly respond to messages or listen to messages that they may have missed, which is another thing that you really can’t do in a traditional walkie-talkie environment. [With traditional push to talk], if you miss a message, you’ve missed it.”