This Microsoft Teams feature has reached general availability and launches on rugged devices aimed at the world’s frontline workforce.
Liam Tung is a full-time freelance technology journalist who writes for several Australian publications.
The Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie feature is now available across all iOS mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads, in addition to Android mobile devices. Microsoft has also showcased the launch on dozens of rugged Android devices from Zebra, the maker of popular mobile devices for frontline workers. 
Walkie Talkie was first made available as a preview on iOS and Android in July
Microsoft’s research has found 88% of organizations employ frontline workers for whom mobile communication is vital to response and emergency tasks. 
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Among this category of workers, Microsoft has claimed – as reported by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley – that it has seen 400% growth in monthly active users since the pandemic began in March 2020. 
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To bolster growth among these users, Microsoft has brought its digital push-to-talk Walkie Talkie feature to multiple devices from Zebra, which makes a range of rugged Android mobile computers and scanning devices for inventory tracking, field operations, transport and so on. That is, devices where ‘tumble’ and ‘fall’ specs are just as important as Android version upgradeability, RAM and storage.  
Zebra once used Windows CE and Windows Mobile for its devices but switched to Android after Microsoft abandoned those mobile platforms.   
Zebra mobile devices that now have the stable version of Teams Walkie Talkie include the TC5x, TC7x, TC2x, EC30, EC50, EC55, MC3300, and MC9300. The TC-series devices are rugged smartphones, EC devices are smartphone-like, while MC series are barcode scanners.   
Key advantages digital push-to-talk devices have over analog alternatives include no frequency static, crosstalk, or eavesdropping since it works over Wi-Fi and cellular.   
The strategic partnership with Zebra builds on Microsoft’s Team 2020 tie-up with Samsung for its rugged devices, which brought Teams Walkie Talkie to the Galaxy XCover Pro and other devices.  
Additionally, Microsoft announced general availability of Zebra’s Reflexis Shifts connector for Teams. It integrates with Zebra’s Reflexis Work Schedule for viewing, assigning, and managing shift requests. It’s a key tool for team scheduling.  
Also generally available is Microsoft Approvals app for Teams, which allows workers to “manage and request approvals in their line of business with Power Apps component framework (PCF) controls, as well as require details like mandatory comments or group approvals,” according to Microsoft. This will be available in February 2022. 
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