There are things that a professional push-to-talk app just has to deliver, but which a generic PTT app cannot. When choosing a PTT app for professional use, what should you look for? We look at 12 must-haves for a professional PTT app.
When an app offers Push-to-talk, or PTT, the speaker simply presses the PTT key to talk to the group - the key needs to be kept pressed while they are speaking. On a PMR radio, PTT is the best way to connect a group of people who need to work together.
You will have seen PTT applications claiming to “turn your smartphone into a walkie-talkie”. These generic PTT apps seem to promise much - near-instant communications with a push of a button, group calling, and even priorities and emergency calls. Yet, they actually deliver very little, certainly nowhere near what a professional user needs.
Make sure you get an app that really delivers on the key requirements and lets you do these 12 vital things!
12 vital capabilities
1 Talk to a group without looking at the device: Your finger should find the PTT button easily, even when your eyes are on the action. It should also be easy to keep it pressed for as long as you need it.
2 Instant connection: A split-second call setup time is needed - typically less than 0.3 seconds. Any longer than that, and the beginning of your sentence could be cut off. Just think about the difference between “Don’t shoot” and “- shoot”!
3 Keep your place in the queue: If you can’t speak straight away because someone else is speaking, you need an app that lets you queue for your turn to speak.
4 Talk to one person as well: A professional push-to-talk app will allow you to PTT call a single person (with an individual or one-to-one call). You don’t want to have to close the app to make a phone call.
5 Make sure you don’t miss important communications: There’s another drawback if you can’t make a one-to-one call within the PTT app - while you are on the phone, you will miss the communications going on in the group. Your best choice would be a push-to-talk app which not only lets you make a one-to-one call, but can also invite you to a group call so you don’t miss a thing.
6 Make double sure you don’t miss important communications: The so-called Late Entry feature is a must. It means that a user who has just switched on the device, or has just finished another call will be invited into an ongoing group call if he/she is a member of that group.
7 Get help – fast: If your work takes you into dangerous situations, you need a PTT app that lets you make an emergency call to get help very quickly. But, make sure it won’t let you make one accidentally.
8 Does the PTT app include an emergency call or a “red key call”? Then check it also meets these criteria:
9 You shouldn’t have to select a number to call in an emergency – not even 112 or 911. The app should automatically send the call to the right place.
10 The app should allow the emergency call to go anywhere that your organization needs it to go - to your dispatcher, your team mate, or a group of people. And, if your first choice of recipient doesn’t answer, will the call go to someone else? It should!
11 Do more than talk: Push-to-talk is mostly associated with speaking, but can the PTT app deliver more? Can you easily send text or status messages within the app, for example? To the same groups that you speak to, or to individuals?
12 Keep track of where you are: Can the PTT app track the device’s location? This feature puts the location on the screen of a dispatching application, keeping you and other users safer.
How to make sure your PTT app works as needed
To gain the full capabilities of professional PTT technology, a number of key requirements need to be met.
Security and control
Setting up the PTT application needs to be professionally managed. Downloading a commercial (often free) app from a generic app store falls far short. These apps may be alright for off-duty purposes, but they don’t hack it for professional use.
Instead, you need to adopt apps in a controlled and systematic way. This way, the app won’t be a novelty used only by a few staff. instead, it can support the goals of your whole organization. Even when opting for controlled adoption, you should prefer an app that is easy to set up in your devices. Set-up over a remote connection will make your life a lot easier!
For smooth communication in working teams, you need talk groups. Once again, ad hoc groups are fine for off duty time, but professionals need a controlled solution. If users can set up their talk (chat) groups themselves, one mis-typed phone number could mean the group communications becoming open to outsiders.
Option: Same groups in smartphones and TETRA radios
Does your organization sometimes need the PTT apps to work seamlessly with TETRA radio communications? It can be done. Ideally, smartphones with the PTT app would be able to join the established TETRA groups for easy, yet controlled communication, both with radios and with the control room.
In other words, people vital to an operation would be connected easily and securely, even when they are using different devices and technologies in a hybrid TETRA and LTE environment.
Need to compare your options?
When looking at PTT apps for professional use, don’t settle just for turning your smartphone into a simple walkie-talkie! After all, a good push-to-talk app could do so much more.
You may also be asking, does such an app actually exist? Is there one that meets every one of these needs? The answer is yes – it’s called Tactilon Agnet 800.
When evaluating your options, use this handy checklist. It will help you identify the push-to-talk app that meets your professional requirements.
Download and print out your handy push-to-talk app checklist to use before you buy:
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Want to know more about professional apps - push-to-talk as well as others? Download this document and learn what users look for in professional apps, how they are used and the biggest concern that users have.