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Apple scraps the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ for iPhone project

Apple was working on a way to bring a high-tech version of the Apple Watch’s Walkie Talkie feature to the iPhone. The technology would have allowed people with iPhones (in a certain vicinity) to send messages over long-distance radio waves when cellular networks weren’t available.

But according to a new report from The Information, it may have shelved the feature for now. This feature was referred to internally as “Project OGRS” — because of its use of the “Off Grid Radio Service.”

Apple was working with Intel on the technology that would have let people send messages from their iPhones directly to other iPhones over long-distance radio waves that bypass cellular networks, said two people familiar with the project.

The technology would have functioned something like a walkie-talkie for text messages, giving people the ability to communicate in areas unserved by wireless carriers.

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It is unclear why Apple suspended the program, but it is thought the project’s champion leaving of Apple earlier in 2019 was a major contributor to its demise. Ruben Caballero, who was a lead engineer on Apple’s 5G modem project, left the company in April following a restructuring of the division, as well as a deal with Qualcomm to supply modems for iPhones.

Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of the walkie talkie feature.


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