Zello for the iPhone – It’s Alive!

By Jim Pickering on March 30, 2012

Austin Development Office

Hey everyone, Jim Pickering here.  I’m the Sr. developer on the Zello iPhone project.   We have been working hard to get Zello for iPhone out to you, thanks for being so patient.  We started this project back in November of 2011, so we really made quick work of it.  One of the reasons it has been so fun working on Zello is because we all use it.  My wife runs Zello on her PC in her upstairs office. I can talk to her from my downstairs office using Zello for iPhone.  “Can you go pick up the kids at school, I’m busy right now?  Well maybe I love it more than she does.  The neat thing is, you can reach anybody anywhere in the world. We live in Austin, my son uses it to talk to his friends in California, family in Portland and New Hampshire.

Check out the channels, add your friends, listen to a past conversation using the history feature.  Zello your husband (or wife) and tell him to get some milk on the way home.

Zello for iPhone also works with Zello@Work.  Check out this link for more information: Zello@Work

We have been burning the midnight oil getting 1.0 out to you, and now it’s time to stop and come up for air,  ahhhh.  Ok, that’s enough, back to work.  We have a lot of cool features on the way for upcoming releases.  Send us your ideas on what you would like to see in Zello, we love great ideas.

Download a free copy now: Zello for iPhone

Zouth by Zouthwest

By Alexey Gavrilov on March 23, 2012

Greetings to all! I’m Meaghan Grant, Sales Associate and newest member of the Zello family. I will be lending my voice to this little blog every now and again.

Several weeks ago the intrepid Zello marketing team of three…and a half (Jim lives there)…packed up shop and headed to Austin for the annual South-by-Southwest conference. To the average hipster South-by-Southwest (SXSW) elicits nothing more than images of concerts and mosh pits.  Those of us in-the-know recognize it for the techie nirvana it really is, beginning with the huge kickoff weekend dedicated to new and emerging technology. Zello took full advantage of the festival to gather consumer feedback and attend events highlighting the geniuses of the tech world. We also took the time to make this awesome video (Teresa, you’re brilliant) illustrating a sweet new angle: Zello Channels.  Check it out!

Zello Push-to-Talk @ SXSW

This feature opens a world of possibilities. Not only can you use the Push-to-Talk app to communicate via voice instantly, but you can also create and personalize channels to reach whole groups of people. As Teresa mentioned in the video- how neat would it be for an event like SXSW? A voice interactive information desk that anyone and everyone can access.  Pretty cool? We think so.

Keep an eye on our facebook page for upcoming opportunities to tell us how you think Zello Channels could be used or tweet your inspiration now #ZelloChannels!



Offline messages support

By Alexey Gavrilov on March 18, 2012

In the most recent updates of Zello for Android (v. 1.23) and BlackBerry (v 1.21) clients we added experimental support for offline messages. Now when someone is off the coverage or doesn’t have the app currently running, you still can send them a message (if they run the latest Zello).

The contacts capable of receiving offline messages will show as ‘Standby‘ in your list with a green circle status icon. The messages sent to such contacts are delivered as soon as the contact returns online.

Let us know what you think and don’t forget to tell you friends to update their Zello!

P.S. We are working to enable this feature in Windows and bring it to Zello Cloud. Upcoming Zello for iPhone will support offline messages too including push notifications about new messages.


Penn State Emergency and the Low-Frequency Voodoo

By Alexey Gavrilov on March 13, 2012

Zello push-to-talk debut at Penn State Beaver Stadium

When we rebranded in December, we thought Zello was a pretty great name. It was fun. It was accessible. It rhymed with Jell-O.  But Brian Bittner and Penn State Emergency are giving us a run for our money. They refer to the popular push-to-talk as, “The Low-Frequency Voodoo” (“L-F-V” for short). Why is that? Bittner explains, “Because it is magic that we can talk through our computers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Zello @Work in the Australian Outback

By Alexey Gavrilov on March 5, 2012

Zello push-to-talk: faster than a hopping kangaroo

Last Thursday (his Friday), I got to talk to a Zello-user from Mascot, Australia: Andrew Purkiss, Applications Development Manager at TNT Express. Andrew and his team started with Zello back in October of 2011, adding 2,500 Zello Cloud licenses to existing Motorola rugged PDAs.

With express freight operations in 65 countries and an eye towards expansion, it’s hard to believe that TNT Express started in 1946 with just one truck. But it’s true—from the beginning, the company has relied on gutsy moves and of-the-moment innovation. Zello is one such example.

What seems to be the problem?

Of course, the decision to move to Zello was not an easy one. Push-to-talk first became an option out of necessity, when new Australian legislation dictated a switch from two-way radios by the end of 2012. But in response to this challenge, TNT started thinking outside the box. Purkiss recognized even at the time, “There would have been more traditional ways of approaching that communications challenge—but we didn’t take the obvious choice.”

How can we help?

Purkiss knew he wanted something new that fit other communication challenges, like the ability to respond instantly to missed deliveries, overloaded drivers and bad addresses. But he also knew they needed something intuitive and quick to learn, the kind of app that drivers used to Motorola would buy into.

One of the most important qualifications was compatibility with long-standing rugged devices, already used for barcode scanning and signature-capture. Purkiss explains, “When drivers are walking to a premise to deliver freight, or when the scanner is in the hands of the customer to sign on the screen… they don’t want loud speech from their team leader booming through the building.” To fit TNT, Zello developer Alex Gavriolv quickly designed what Purkiss calls “an automatic ‘Do not Disturb’ so our drivers don’t have to worry.”

Where is this going?

Now that they’ve been using Zello in the field for a few months, Purkiss and his team are starting to think about integrating push-to-talk elsewhere.  “Talking to my supervisors, it could well take over communications within the operation,” says Purkiss, describing situations in which he could use Zello to contact a supervisor down the hall or a team leader stopping for coffee. Says Purkiss, “It’s probably worth saying that we were somewhat skeptical about push-to-talk as a technology,” but over the past three months, he and his team have found Zello a great fit: “It’s very intuitive. It’s very functional. If I want to talk to a channel, I can. If I want to talk to one of our drivers, I can. It’s very straightforward.”

Say ‘Ello to Zello in the Australian Outback and beyond.

Measuring push-to-talk speed with an iPad

By Bill Moore on March 4, 2012

Fellow guerrilla mobile marketeers may appreciate this low-cost setup for watching  mobile apps.

The 2×4 mount was drilled for a broken tripod then notched for the  iPad with a foam insert to protect the iPad.  In the pursuit of  push-to-talk greatness we’ve sacrificed a perfectly good Texas Rangers beer coozie as the insert.

The mount works well on a table near a daytime window with adjustable curtains.  That’s because lighting is tough — it needs to be dark enough to reduce  screen glare and bright enough where the mobile screen does not saturate your video.

We’ve been using this  setup to understand end-end latency.  After recording side-by-side apps, iMovie makes it easy to watch screen  transitions in slow motion, see audio timing and measure within 4 milliseconds by looking at the video frame count.  Windows Movie Maker would work except it does not import iPad .mov files.

Measuring in seconds takes a little math because iMovie displays seconds plus frames after the decimal point.  Our  project was 24 frames per second, so the example below is 4 plus 19/24 seconds from the video start or  4.79 seconds .

Zello talk buttons turn red when the receiver is  found and connected.  Over wifi the first time usually takes less than half a second and then gets much faster.  Zello can play a  beep when it’s ready for you to talk.  Ready means means we have enough buffer to smooth over jitter and  play continuous audio.  Real-time connection quality affects jitter so the setting is complex and dynamic.

It’s fun to make jigs and test.  But our goal and the more fun problem is balancing the user experience of perceived speed against variable  network constraints.