Push to talk, or PTT, sucks. There aren’t many things more annoying than being at the mall and hearing someone’s phone chirp followed by a disembodied voice saying, “Dude, we’re at the Mervyns!” We hate that. Cingular/AT&T, though, thinks we deserve more of it, as it’s allowing all of its customers with compatible hardware access to PTT with other customers on a pay-per-use basis.
No need to sign up for it, it just works, at $.15 a minute. One neat feature is the ability to convert a PTT call to a standard cell call, including those with multiple people. Another feature that’s a bit spooky is that you can get the online status of friends in your contact list on the network, much as you can with IM. This might actually get people to use PTT on the network, but do we really want people knowing when our phones are on?
PTT is a good idea that’s flawed in execution. At some point, carriers might incorporate interoperability between the PTT networks. Until then, though, users can only chat with friends on their own network, and with free in-network calling, we don’t see the point.