Are you looking for a way to use your phone as a walkie talkie? Do you want to find a walkie talkie that can talk to or hear from those live in different part of the world? Zello App can be the solution. Please read through this comprehensive Zello app review and consider the app as a candidate for your new way of communication.
Zello is a mobile app that allows you to talk with one or more people on a real-time basis. What does real-time mean here? That means you and your friends or colleagues, if they are connected, can talk to each other without making a call. You just need to push the button and talk. Then, the app will broadcast what you are saying to the people in real-time. Yes, just like walkie talkies!
How does it work?
Zello app requires an Internet connection via WiFi or data service like 3G or 4G. With the connection, the app lets you stay connected to your group. Since it uses a data connection, you can communicate with people in any place in the world without limits on users and channels. This app runs on iPhone, Android, and even PCs.
Two Different Versions
It has two different versions – a free personal app and a paid app for work. Let’s dig into each of those two versions.
Zello, Free Push-to-Talk
Zello, the free version app, has ben used by 120 million people in the world. With this version, you can connect with people, one-to-one or in groups, anywhere in the world. You can also join public channels. Although it is free, you can use unlimitedly for your family, friends, or any occasions that need real-time communications. You can use the free version in your smartphone, tablet or PC.
When I reviewed their website and customer reviews on App Store, I was surprised by the fact that people are using it creatively. It is not just walkie talkie, but a global-scale social channel where people use their voice to communicate. You can join a French class group and learn the language with other people. It will become a virtual classroom where you can raise your hand (not exactly a hand though) and ask questions to the instructor. Let me share some examples of public channels.
Religion – you can join or create, for example, a bible meeting and discuss some chapters of the bible. If you want to spread the word of the bible to the public, then you can create a public group that can be seen many people using Zello. People who are interested will join your group and hear about the discussions.
Off Roading – you may be bored while driving for a long distance alone. You can talk to multiple people or just simply listen to what people are saying. You may be able to hear some tips about trips. Imaging that you have companions that join your trip. You will not get bored.
Police – you can hear the communications of the police in your area if you join a regional police channel. The police might share some details of a suspect or some alerts about some dangerous events occurring right now.
Pets – we are used to uploading photos and sending texts among friends. How about talking about your beloved pet with other pet lovers in real-time? It will give you a different type of fun.
Learn Language – you can practice a foreign language with a group trying to learn it. As you can speak with the people, your dialogue skills will sure be improved.
Counseling – people sometimes need a conversation partner to share their pains and joys together with someone else. What if there is a group that listens to your story and shares the feeling.
Public Channel Examples
The Zello website allows visitors to explore public channels. I visited the channels to check what channels have been being operated. There were 17 channels at the moment. Many of them were related to the weather warnings, police operations, and religions. I visited some of the channels, but all of them were quite. I believe that most of the group channels are being run privately.
Well, I am starting to be confused. What is the difference between Group and Channel?
Groups vs. Channels
Zello uses these two terms differently. Groups are for private conversations between several people you know. They all should be listed as Zello contacts. To join a group, people should be invited. Also, the name of the group cannot be searched. So, it is entirely a private group. In contrast, channels are for both private and public meetings of multiple people you may or may not know.
You can share the channel’s URL or QR code. The channel name is searchable by its name. Both group and channel have options of live voice communication, texting, alerts, location sharing, and images. So when do you need to create a group or a channel?
Make a private group if you want to talk with friends and colleagues. With or without knowing, you may tell some private details of yourself or someone else’s. If you want to keep the size of the group small, also choose a group over a channel since only small number of people can join a group.
If you want to hear public opinions on certain topics or want to have an anonymous meeting with people from different background, the channel will be the right choice for you. A channel can take as many as 6,000 people.
This section covered what you can do with the free version of Zello. In the next section, I will explain about the paid version.
ZelloWork, Optimal for Team Works
The other version of Zello is ZelloWork, a paid option for work. It provides more power and security to users since people can manage users, roles, channels, and all system settings via its Management Console. An administrator can access the console using a web browser and deeply control the settings. You can even mute users or channels.
ZelloWork allows you to create channels as many as you want and assign up to 3,500 people to a single channel. Here, the channel is different from that of the free version. Since this paid version is for work, channels stay within your organization. The public will not be able to search your channels or join a channel at their will. In ZelloWork, there is more than one type of channel.
Team Channel – you can set up and use a Team Channel to have one-to-many or one-to-one conversations.
Dynamic Channel – there can be groups that need to contact all the time, but rather communicate irregularly. In that case, you can use dynamic channels to support those groups.
Hidden Channel – this is very private type of channel where you can have one-on-one conversation only.
Ad Hoc Channel – as the last type, when you want to create temporary channels that can be removed anytime, you can set up an Ad Hoc Channel.
Fine Communication Controls
Using the management console, you can fine control your communication rules. The Zello website explains that you can decide who is permitted to:
- speak to someone in a channel.
- speak to specific roles in a channel.
- listen only.
- leave a channel at will.
- send alerts to a channel.
With these configurations, you can make your communication more secure and reliable, which is essential in a work environment.
How Can We Talk
You may be worried that if anything you say or ambient noise around you would just go to the microphone and people can hear it. The way of using it is very similar to that of walkie talkies. You just press and keep holding the push-to-talk button when you want to talk. When you are done, you release the button. When you release it, no sound from you will be heard in the network. Its user interface is simply easy.
You can just select the contact or channel you want to talk to. And the push-to-talk button is noticeably large. Even if some members of your channel are not tech savvy, simple training would make them used to the UI and able to use this app.
Should We Always Hear from Others?
Available – this is the basic status where you can hear and talk in real time. all contacts and channels can talk to you.
Solo – use this status if you want to communicate with once contact or one group. It is convenient that other messages will automatically go to History.
Busy – as the status says, use this when you don’t want to be disrupted. All messages will go to History.
Offline – All messages will go to History. ZelloWork will preserve them up to 7 days.
Just like any other chat apps, you can set your status as one of these. So, don’t worry about continuously hearing voices when you don’t want to. In addition to History, if you want to check recent messages, you can easily track the latest messages and alerts.
Can We Reply Missed Messages?
You can find missed messages in the History menu. There, you can select a missed message to reply. With this, you can professionally communicate with your colleagues. You can guarantee responsiveness.
As I checked their website, I got an impression that many corporate customers trust Zello and use it for communication. I will introduce 3 good case studies in this section.
In Australia, TNT Express is one of the largest freight companies. They operate their business not only in Australia but in 61 countries. In 2015, their sales recorded 6.9 billion euros. Its headquarters are not in the Netherlands. This global-scale firm has chosen ZelloWork for their communication channel.
TNT Express Australia needed a new way of communication when the country’s law enforced abandoning the old two-way radios. Their requirements were:
- Able to communicate while driving and carrying packages to customers.
- Compatible to their old devices that are used to get customer signatures and scan barcodes.
- Silent mode when drivers are facing customers.
TNT Express has chosen ZelloWork since it has met these important requirements. The case study in the Zello website included an opinion of the team that says it is straightforward to use.
W Seattle Hotel
W Seattle is a trendy hotel that is located in Seattle, Washington. This luxury hotel provides a stunning scenic views of the city and Puget Sound. They have 415 rooms, 9 luxury suites, and two grand ballrooms. This contemporary and modern hotel has chosen ZelloWork to replace their two-way radio communication.
It is obvious that efficient communication is essential to serve guests and host events in the hotel. The hotel’s IT team installed ZelloWork on their iPods before handing them over to their staffs. To make it less intrusive to guests, they adopted Bluetooth headsets. After using a year, they have decided completely to move away from two-way radio communication.
Cisco Live! 2017 Event
Cisco was planning the biggest event with more than 16,000 registered guests for Live! 2017 conference. The challenge for the event was not only the number of participants, but logistics during the conference. The event occurred in two separate venues, both in enormous space. It has over 1,400 small sessions and presentations happening in different times. Over 300 sponsors supported the event and they need to install their booth needing support for their logistics.
In the previous event, Cisco used the two-way radios, but for the 2017 event, their event management company wanted more effective way in terms of cost and communication. They looked for reducing tens of thousands of dollars that incurred with the traditional radio devices. Also, they wanted, of course, a real-time channel to exchange voice messages. Since it was the event for one of the world’s largest IT companies, they looked for a high-tech solution that can live up to the Cisco’s name.
Since ZelloWork used Wi-Fi during the event, users were not affected by any distance limitation between two separate conference venues. With ZelloWork, Cisco was able to finish the event successfully with a tremendous cost reduction of 99% compared to the previous year with the radios.
The success stories of the companies have been reflected in the review ratings in the App Store, 4.6 stars out of 5. From my review, we’ve learned that Zello can meet the two essential requirements of any organizations and individuals – performance and cost. If you want to move away from old radios and adopt a smarter way for communications, I would highly recommend Zello.