Apple was reportedly working on a feature that would have allowed iPhone users to send messages to each other without cellular coverage - such as when up a mountain - but it has been put on hold for now.
The feature - dubbed "Walkie Talkie" - was claimed to run over the 900Hz radio spectrum, allowing messages to be sent between iPhones via long distance radio waves rather than cellular networks.
It is said to be different to the Walkie Talkie feature that Apple offers on its Apple Watch. The Apple Watch feature allows Apple Watch users to communicate with each other as you would a walkie talkie, but it requires a Wi-Fi or cellular connection - which the iPhone Walkie Talkie feature was not expected to do.
According to The Information, Apple was working on the Walkie Talkie feature for iPhone with Intel, relying on Intel modems, but it's expected Apple will use Qualcomm modems from 2020, which may be one of the reasons for the suspension of the feature.
No more Dick Tracy moments for you
It was certainly an interesting idea. But, having used Walkie Talkie on the Apple Watch and then pretty much immediately turned it off, I can see why this might now be dead in the water.
While, on paper, it sounds great, I suspect there were so many issues around it - privacy, consistency, the move away from intel chips, and network/carrier push back to mention a few - that Apple might have weighed up the pros and cons and decided the negatives were far outweighed the benefits.
If the system was going to offer similar functionality to Walkie Talkie on Apple Watch, the good news is that we've not really missed out on anything ground breaking.
The Apple executive leading the project - Rubén Caballero - also left Apple earlier this year, which is said to be another part of the reason for the shelving of the feature, for now.
Nothing has been mentioned about security risks - which was the reason for the Apple Watch Walkie Talkie feature being suspended on devices for a couple of weeks in July 2019. The Walkie Talkie feature on Apple Watch is back up and running again now though.
It's not currently clear if work on the iPhone Walkie Talkie feature will start again for future iPhones, or whether the feature has been suspended permanently.