Blogs > Walkie-Talkie Apps
September 12, 2012 Cam Levack
Got your ears on? Check out new Walkie-Talkie apps for smartphones.
Maybe you played with walkie-talkies as a kid, or joined in some on-road banter over CB Radio. The magic is back. Old tech meets new with these new walkie-talkie apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows.
Text messages can be a convenient way to communicate, provided you’re in a position to tap out a sentence or two and send it. But how about a “voice-text”, a message created by your voice and but sent out as you would a text? What if you could add a photo as well? Play back your recorded conversation later? And not even eat into your cellular usage?
If these kinds of features sound like they’re for you, read on.
New York Times tech writer David Pogue introduced the pros and cons of three new apps in his recent post. As David puts it, “You open the app, tap someone’s name, hold down the big ‘Talk’ button, and speak.” The person (or persons) on the other end hears your voice in full clarity, whether they’re a mile away – or on the other side of the world. Then they press their “Talk” button, and the conversation begins. It’s faster than texting, easier than texting – and a whole lot safer if you happen to be driving. All it takes is a decent Internet connection.
Let’s check out the three leading programs available today.
Zello Walkie Talkie http://zello.com
The Zello app is free, with no ads to clutter the interface. It uses little data and works cross platform (such as iPhone to Android, etc.). Zello’s unique selling point is its ability to create groups for conversations – or party lines, for those old enough to remember such things. Channels are pre-made for numerous cities around the globe, including London, Paris and yes, Toronto. The app takes up little space on your IOS device.
One reviewer praised Zello’s multilingual capability, as well as such features as push notifications and call alerts. Is there a downside? Only that Zello can use up a lot of battery and Internet; it works best on a strong WiFi connection.
HeyTell offers many of the same features as Zello, albeit with a more commercial feel that includes banner ads and upgrade options. Some can be fun, such as a voice-changing module that gives your voice a robotic quality or auto-tune. Zello supports group chats and can transmit your location. If you like, HeyTell will transmit audio blurbs to Facebook or your email. And the app is free.
Gizmodo was enthused about Heytell’s ability to review messages. How many times have you wondered what was actually discussed or agreed to?
Presently available for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android, Voxer offers even more features. It allows you to intermix voice, text and images. Imagine communicating with your partner from the hardware store. “What do you think of this sink? Can’t quite picture it? Well here’s an image to look at while we’re discussing it”.
The app also allows users to load Voxer-equipped Facebook friends automatically. This could present a “too much, too soon” dilemma for people with lots of friends, but Voxer promises an update to control it. It tends to work less successfully in areas of weak signal, or on low-powered smartphones.
Check out a demo and review of Voxer on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yHrpDQxu7E.
The reviewer is a little over the top, but you’ll see his point.
Just when you thought you’d seen (and heard) it all for smartphones, something truly new arrives. Hey good buddy, check it out! 10.4
Cam Levak, Raven5 Ltd., September 2012