Sprint recently announced the availability of Nextel Direct Send Picture service, which lets subscribers send and review a picture while on a Nextel walkie-talkie call without having to access a separate data service.

With the new service, a subscriber on a walkie-talkie call can send a picture to the other Nextel subscriber on the call. The picture appears on the handset of both phones during the call, allowing the callers to view and discuss it. Transmission of the picture typically takes 8 to 12 seconds, Sprint spokeswoman Amy Schiska-Lombard said.

Sprint anticipates the feature will be especially popular for subscribers that frequently need to discuss site observations and events in real time.

"While sending pictures between mobile phones has been possible for quite some time, Direct Send Picture is unique in the marketplace because it allows customers to look at and discuss an image at the same time," Tony Krueck, Sprint’s vice president of product development and management, said in a prepared statement. "This kind of simple and efficient communication … is of extreme value to our customers, especially those in the construction, insurance, real estate and public-safety sectors."

Direct Send Picture is an extension of the Direct Send function Nextel unveiled last year. Direct Send lets subscribers send contact information and data into another subscriber’s contact list with the push of a walkie-talkie button.

Only subscribers with a Motorola i870 phone can immediately use the Direct Send Pictures function, which will be included on all future Nextel phones. In coming weeks, software upgrades will be available that will let owners of several existing Nextel phone models use Direct Send Pictures. Among the upgradeable phone models are the Motorola i850, i760, i560, i355 and i275.

“We think [the Direct Send software upgrades] will be available sometime in November,” Schiska-Lombard said.

Direct Send Pictures is exclusive to Nextel phones using the walkie-talkie service formerly known as Direct Connect that operates via the iDEN network, said. The service is not available on the ReadyLink push-to-talk service offered by Sprint PCS and is not compatible with Nextel’s Direct Talk—a radio-to-radio walkie-talkie service, as opposed to one that uses the network—offering, she said.