Nope, that's not a spelling error, it's actually a new app that was recently released to the AppStore. What is it? Read on and find out.
In many of my blog entries, I've touched on APPS that let you make phone calls for free, suchs MagicJack or TalkaTone. But what if you could turn your iDevice into a glorified walkie Talkie? And some would ask, why would you want to do that? Why indeed. Well, suppose there was an app that not only gave you access to chatting to folks that you add to your buddy list, but also let you tune into channels of interest or even create your own channels? This is where Zello comes in. See how I worked up anticipation there? Did I mention that Zello is free?
Setting up Zello:
First step is to download it from the AppStore. I'll let you do that on your own.
Once done, Double tap on the app and follow the prompts in order to create your account. The usual user name and password stuff apply here. Once you've successfully joined Zello, you will be brought to the main screen.
The Main Screen:
The main screen is composed of 2 sections: The first section contains A contacts area with an "Add" button and all of your Zello contacts, (which you probably don't have any as of yet).
The second section contains two tabs: contacts and My Info.
So let's add some contacts.
Adding a contact:
Before doing this, there might be an Echo contact already in your list.
double tap on it and accept this contact. The echo contact will replay anything you say to it. A very good way to test your setup.
Back to our adding of contacts in the main screen./
Double tap on the "add" button. An alert will come up with 3 options: Add a contact, Add a channel and Cancel. Double tap on Add a contact. We'll chek out the channels in a minute. You'll be presented with a search screen. You can either do a search for someone you know who is already on Zello, or you can just swipe to the "addressbook" option and let the app figure things out. Let's choose the addressbook for this exercise. When there, choose the "Contacts on Zello" tab, to see if any of your contacts are already there. If they are, just double tap on their names to select them and double tap on the "done" button to proceed. They will have to validate you before you can talk to them, but they will be added to your zello contact list. To add other people to your Zello list, repeat the steps above and then choose the "all Contacts" tab instead. Select the people that you want and then Double Tap on the, "done" button. Please note, there are Zello clients for iDevices, Android based devices, Blackberries and PCs, so you're safe at adding pretty much anyone from your contact list.
Chatting with someone:
Everyone still out there? My fingers are getting tired just typing all of this out. Let's contact someone. Let's go back to the contacts page. By now, you should have at least one contact. If not, feel free to add me to the list. Within the search area accessed from the add button, type in my Zello Handle, mcourcel. I should be pretty quick at adding you to my list.
Back to chatting to someone.
Double tap on someone listed in the contact area. You could always try the Echo contact for this part.
Find the talk button. VoiceOver lists it as "Talk TS Normal Button". Hey, I don't label these things. You will need to hold down this button. To do that, do a single fingered double tap and hold. So, that's tap tap and hold. You will hear a beep, you can talk after that beep and let the button go when done. You should hear a response from your contact within a few seconds, if they're around.
Missed a message, no problem. There's a history function as well. To access this, go to the history icon. To enable the history, do a double tap swipe up gesture. You'll have to disable history before you can move out of this screen by doing a Double tap swipe down. Tap on any of the messages to hear them. The usual Next, Play, previous buttons are present within the history area as well.
Adding a channel:
To add a channel, click on the "add" button on the contacts screen. Choose "Add A channel" and then do a search for something of interest. For example, Apple will bring up all groups that deal with apple-like topics. One of particular interest would be the AppleVis channel. Double tap to get more information on the channel and then click the "add" button to confirm. It'll take a few seconds and then you will be returned to the contacts window. You will then start receiving messages from this group. The channels work exactly the same way as a normal contact would. See above on how to chat.
Creating a channel:
From within the "Add a Channel" screen, the last icon is the "Creat a Channel" option. Double tap on this. You will be presented with a little form to fill out. First field is the name of your channel. The next is a description. Finally, you can opt to have a password. This depends whether you want this to be a closed group, (invitation only), or a group that anyone can join. Once you've filled everything to your liking, double tap the "done" button.
You will be brought back to the contacts screen.
A few caveats:
To enter password protected channels, you will need to go to the talk screen, double tap on the "menu Normal" button and then choose the Enter Password" entry.
This menu also has a speaker mode on/off option and a Solo option. The solo option enables you to choose to only listen to one contact and/or channel at a time. This can become quite handy if you have joined many channels, or have an overly chatty contact.
To go back to the main screen from the chat window, you need to double tap on the "back Normal" button. The usual scrub gesture does not work here.
For more information on the Zello Service, visit: www.zello.com
Well, that's it for now. Don't forget to say Zello to me when you get setup.
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