Apple Suspends IPhone's 'walkie-talkie' Project

Date:Aug 30, 2019


Apple has suspended a new radio technology project that allows mobile phone users to get in touch with nearby companions in areas where there is no cell phone coverage, such as hiking in remote areas.

People familiar with the matter said that the reason for the suspension of the work is unclear, but the head of the project, Rubén Caballero, left Apple earlier this year, which is a factor in the suspension of the project.

As of now, Apple has not responded.

1. Radio features may appear in future iPhones

According to two people familiar with the matter, the radio function was developed by Apple and Intel to allow people to bypass the long-distance radio waves of the cellular network and use their iPhone to send information directly to other iPhones. The technology functions like a walkie-talkie, enabling people to communicate in areas where there is no wireless carrier service.

The technology uses different codes within Apple and Intel, called the OGRS Program and the Shrek Project. This technology is designed to operate on the 900MHz radio band and is currently used for dispatching radio communications in the utilities, oil and gas industries. According to reports, this feature relies on the upcoming Intel cellular modem.

Apple has hinted at its interest in radio technology in the past. Earlier this year, it applied for a series of patents describing off-grid communications from equipment to equipment. These patents use the Off Grid Radio Service, which is the codename for the project within Apple.

2. The departure of the person in charge led to the suspension of the radio technology project.

Apple executive Rubén Caballero, who is in charge of the radio technology project, left the company earlier this year. Apple insiders called the project "RubénCaballero's child" which hit the project. Rubén Caballero did not respond to this matter.

Inside Apple, Rubén Caballero formed a team of nearly 1,000 employees working on radio projects. According to two people familiar with the matter, his responsibilities include one of the company's most ambitious projects, the plan to build a cellular modem for the iPhone.

It is understood that Johny Srouji succeeded Rubén Caballero as the head of the modem team, and the employees of the original team were dispersed to other departments of the company.

3. Apple increased its radio plan investment

Although radiocommunication projects have been shelved, Apple has been trying to use radio to differentiate mobile phones. The company recently added $1 billion to the baseband chip business of Intel's mobile 5G network. Apple has increased its investment in radio technology, which will bring Apple 2,200 new employees and a large number of radio patents.

The first 5G network iPhones to be launched in 2020 will use Qualcomm chips. Earlier this year, the two companies reached a settlement on the issue of royalties. Apple's goal is to produce its own modem within a few years.