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Ex-Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie creates messaging iPhone app to ‘revolutionize’ voice calling

Ray Ozzie, who used to be Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer and Chief Software Architect, has come out with a new app for the iPhone. In an extensive profile, Steven Levy explains the premise behind the app, dubbed Talko. You can read the full overview on Medium. The app has been in development for more than two years.

A new take on phone calls, the app shows if your recipient is currently walking or driving — giving a hint at attentiveness of the speaker before the conversation even begins. It’s a nice use of the Apple M7 and M8 coprocessors. Any voice communication is archived into the growing thread … to organize a conversation like any other modern chat app really. Talko seems best as an app for modern meetings, like a conference call replacement, although Ozzie insists it can be used beyond business.

Talko is primarily designed to work with groups, in particular to boost the productivity of collaborative workplace teams. The Talko engineeers, who have been testing the product for over two years, use it for all of their stand ups, the regular meetings when they discuss progress, flag problems, and set short-time tasks. It’s not only invaluable to those who might miss a session, but also to people who are in the room together for the meeting, who can refer to key moments in a playback.

Rather amusingly, Talko is a ‘homage’ to a group chat system Ozzie used in the 1970’s called Talkomatic. Despite the hype, this app feels similarly ancient. It combines text messaging with voice chat, but so does Whatsapp, Line or any of the myriad group chat apps that have risen to popularity.

Even Apple’s Messages app became much more capable with iOS 8, offering group thread messagement, voice messages, inline videos and much more. It sort of feels like Talko is too late to the party. Still, if you want to try it out, you can download it from the App Store for free.

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  1. PMZanetti - 8 years ago

    Just what the iPhone was missing: Voice/Video/Text Messaging.

  2. Andrew Messenger - 8 years ago


  3. As long as they don’t do that ugly Metro interface with oversized lettering like they’ve done to their Zune, Windows Phones, and now our Skype app, I’ll give it a try.

  4. weakguy - 8 years ago

    Finally! That’s the messaging app I’ve been waiting for. I always thought that Apple would integrate this kinda feature for the notification system overall on iOS when they introduced the M7 coprocessor. You know, different notification under different situations, e.g. no alarm while driving. I still hope Apple can make this feature available in near future. If people I know are actually using this app, I’ll totally give it a shot.

  5. leifashley - 8 years ago

    So it’s Skype with a metro UI feel. And it does… well the same thing that Apple, google, and Skype do now. I really don’t care about what the other person is doing. Responding to me when they have time in a responsible way is their task, not mine.

    How is this different from anything else at all?

  6. Craig Patchett - 8 years ago

    This is little more than a vanity project from someone who is out of touch with the needs of the average user.

  7. Someone actually used myriad right! Awesome Ben.

  8. Welcome.



Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.