Reminder: Zello for iPhone is not an actual walkie-talkie, and still needs internet connec...

in iPhone edited August 2019
With Hurricane Dorian approaching the coast of Florida, word is again spreading about "push to talk" iPhone app Zello. However, downloaders should be aware that the app requires not only a solid internet connection, it also needs connectivity to Zello's servers to function.

Hurricane Dorian
Hurricane Dorian

According to Zello's CEO in 2017, the "walkie-talkie" app saw a 20-fold increase in usage during the Houston rescue situation following a hurricane, and was in use by the "Cajun Navy" as well as some first responders.

As a reminder, Zello uses some form of voice-over-IP (VOIP) to function. It does not utilize the now-shuttered PTT network commonly used on Nextel devices. As such, a reliable Wi-Fi or wireless connection is needed on both ends. Additionally, the Zello servers need to be fully operational and not overburdened.

AppleInsider isn't saying that you shouldn't install the app, because you absolutely should if you're in the path of the hurricane. However, we are saying that you shouldn't rely on it as your only means of communication in the event of a crisis resulting in massive destruction of infrastructure.

Apple's own iMessage and FaceTime do need reliable internet connectivity as well, but the server infrastructure Apple has built around the services are robust, and reliable -- eliminating over-capacity as a reason for failure.

If you live in Florida, or any other area expected to see impact from Dorian, be prepared. Just don't put all your eggs in one basket -- or app.


  • Reply 1 of 2
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    FRS radios are super cheap nowadays and available everywhere. Also getting your HAM license is extremely easy if you are worried about communications in a weather event such as this (and you should be).
  • Reply 2 of 2
    I got the dust off my HAM gear several years ago when both landlines and cell communications went down. VHF rigs are quite cheap on eBay and many areas use repeaters on towers used by emergency services so they are quite reliable. Just make sure you have a cigarette lighter attachment in your car to recharge your batteries.  The basic HAM license no longer requires Morse code and the exam is easy. 
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