Zello is the live-voice communications app of choice for a growing number of people and businesses. Over 125 million users have downloaded the free Zello push-to-talk (PTT) walkie-talkie app since 2012. Zello is versatile and packed with features that can be used for a wide range of activities involving one-on-one, group, or channel communications. One-on-one talks are straightforward; you just select one contact to talk with in private. But whether to use a group or channel in Zello depends on your communication needs.
Groups are meant for private conversations between multiple people you know and have listed as Zello contacts. Members must be invited to join a group. Group names are not searchable.
Channels are are designed for private or public conversations with multiple people you may not know. You can invite people to join the channel by using your contacts list or address book. You can also share the channel’s URL or QR code using social media, emails, or SMS texts. Users can find and join your channel by searching on its name.
Both group and channel options offer live audio, texting, persistent alerts, image and location sharing, as well as history.
Other Differences Between Groups & Channels
Groups require fewer steps to create than channels. Groups are best for quick on-the-fly chats with other Zello users. Creating a group is a simple 3-step process:
Go to RECENTS on the main menu
Tap on the “+” icon at the bottom right
Select contacts to add and tap “Start” at the upper right.
That’s it! There is no group profile required. Once the group is created, an audio alert is sent to all invited members. The group will automatically appear at the top of each member’s RECENTS list. Unlike channels, there is no owner, admins or mods. The group can be renamed by its members. Each member can invite their own contacts to the group. No authorization, invite confirmation, or password is needed to join. Members can disconnect/reconnect or delete the group at any time. Once deleted, members cannot rejoin the group. They must be re-invited to the group. Group conversations are private and encrypted end-to-end.
Channels offer more options in the way of privacy, pre-screening users, and moderation tools. Subsequently, there are more steps involved when creating a public or private channel. A channel profile must be created by the channel’s creator. The creator becomes the “owner” of the channel. Channels are permanent until deleted by the owner. The profile contains information such as the channel type, languages supported, general description, location/texting/image options, and requirements for users who want to join.
The owner may require new users to provide a verbal request, verified phone/emails, or a channel password in order to join. The owner can assign mods and admins to help moderate the channel. Subscribers can disconnect/reconnect or delete the channel at any time. Once deleted, the channel can be re-added if needed. Channel conversations are only partially encrypted since channels can be public.
When to Use a Channel vs. Group
These considerations will help you determine whether you should create a group or a channel:
Create a group conversation if:
You are talking to family and friends. For example, to plan a ski trip or catch up with friends from school
The number of people in the group is small
Everyone knows everyone else
You need fully encrypted messaging.
This Support FAQ provides more information about creating groups.
Create a channel if:
You want to reach people you do not know personally
You want an anonymous platform to discuss various topics of interest
You want to pre-approve, manage and monitor subscribers in the channel
You want to reach a large number of people (up to 6000).
Our User Guides explain how to create and use channels.
Once created, your groups will be listed under RECENTS and channels under CHANNELS. Both options are located on the main menu for Android and iOS devices.