It looks as though Sprint is finally about to release a software-only push-to-talk solution for its Android customers. This year Sprint plans to launch Direct Connect Now as a downloadable Android app, giving users access to Sprint's CDMA-based Direct Connect network while offering interoperability with the aging iDEN-based push-to-talk network, touchscreen controls, and conversations with up to 20 people at once. At launch, the app will be available for the Samsung Transform Ultra, but an internal Sprint website indicates it will be coming to more non-embedded devices down the road.
The iDEN network Sprint acquired when it merged with Nextel is a 2G technology, meaning its users can't access voice and data simultaneously. While the CDMA Direct Connect network Sprint is transitioning to isn't new (it originally launched in 2008), until this point all of the compatible phones have needed special hardware to get on. Even the Admiral Android phone Motorola released last year had a dedicated Direct Connect button. Now that Sprint has made Direct Connect a purely software affair on Android, we're expecting to see some more attractive devices get push-to-talk capability — if the solution is all in software there's ostensibly nothing to stop Sprint from offering Direct Connect Now on its premier Android devices.