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The iconic walkie-talkie from Motorola enters the smartphone era

Motorola Solutions is releasing a new version of its APX radio for first responders that is adding touchscreen and voice control support to the device for the first time. The APX Next can connect via LTE in addition to offering the standard LMR (land mobile radio) connectivity of a walkie-talkie, and it can even send location data from an officer directly to a coordinator.

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Although many of these functions have been available on smartphones for years, they are much more challenging to implement on a device intended for first-aiders, according to Fast operation. The touch screen should work in the rain or while using gloves, and Motorola Solutions (which is different from the Motorola Mobility smartphone department now owned by Lenovo) had to be careful that the LTE connectivity would not cause interference to the LMR connection of the device. LMR is an essential technology during emergencies in which typical mobile networks can be disrupted or overloaded.


The walkie-talkie now has a touchscreen for the first time.
Image: Motorola

The voice control capabilities of the APX Next should also work differently than on smartphones. To begin with, they trust that they will be activated by using a button instead of a keyword. Officers must also press a button to hear the result of their question, to prevent the voice assistant from accidentally wiping out sensitive information in public. It is also optimized to work in extremely loud environments, using four microphones to suppress background noise.

Motorola says the ViQi voice control system is being launched with the ability for officers to search for license plate numbers, driver's license information and vehicle identification numbers (VIN). In the future, it is hoped that ViQi will be able to request vehicle assistance, make statements and translate languages.

Motorola does not publicly comment on how much the APX Next costs – Fast operation notes that the price varies too much depending on the number of devices being purchased – but the walkie-talkie is now available to order.