Motorola Solutions recently announced a new application for smartphones that extends the reach of the company’s MOTOTRBO digital radio platform. Dubbed “MOTOTRBO Anywhere,” the app connects Android and iOS devices to MOTOTRBO radios via a wireline gateway.

The app is designed for use cases where an enterprise’s personnel find themselves outside of the system’s coverage area, according to Randy Helm, director of product management for Motorola Solutions’ professional and commercial radio division.

“One example might be the plant supervisor who goes home at night but still wants to connect to his workforce through their radio system,” Helm said. “So, he’ll take out his smartphone and PTT [push to talk] a talk group, or an individual at work, and tie in that way.”

Another scenario would involve executives who don’t want to carry radios but still want to connect to staff when a critical event occurs, whether they are inside or outside the facility, Helm said.

The app connects to the gateway via cellular or Wi-Fi. When opened, a password-protected interface appears on the screen through which the user logs on. Once logged on, the user can choose to initiate a PTT conversation with individuals or talk groups. 

Another advantage of MOTOTRBO Anywhere is that it is carrier agnostic, Helm said.

“With any push-to-talk-over-cellular solution, you’re tied to that carrier,” he said. “With our approach, as long as you can get 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi coverage—it doesn’t matter from where—you can connect.”

With the cost of a MOTOTRBO radio ranging from $500 to $1000, enterprises might be tempted to think of the app as way to replace their more expensive radio system. But Helm stressed that an LMR system offers benefits that a cellular solution can’t replicate.

“Whether it is audio quality, the ruggedness of the devices, or PTT access time—these are things that you don’t get in a cell phone experience,” he said. “So [the app] really is a way to extend the reach [of the radio system] where needed. It’s a complement, not a replacement. We’re trying to make sure that that’s understood up front. ”

Another issue regarding smartphones is battery life, according to Helm.

“When you’re running many applications, or trying to use GPS while you’re talking, you watch your smartphone battery go [quickly],” he said. “That would be an issue, too,  if you were trying to PTT on your smartphone all day long.”

The app—which users will be able to download for free—is expected to be available by the end of next month, according to Helm, who noted that target markets for the product include the manufacturing, transportation, utility and hospitality sectors.