Zello fails to bridge chatroom and voice effectively
Author: Kevin Vadala
Date: 01 Jan 2015, tested on Samsung GT-I9500 Galaxy S4
Poor sorting, chatroom variety needs a lot of work, profiles feel weak
Zello for Android is a very interesting app that tries to bridge the boundary between telephone conversations, and Internet chat rooms. As you might know, there are chat rooms integrated into certain apps – and these are used by gamers all around the world. Ventrilo and Raidcall are such applications, but these programs are used mostly for private groups. Zello feels much more social, in that you can search for featured channels, or other people's channels. It's a great idea, perfect for the mobile phone, where everyone has a microphone. However, the variety of popular chat rooms is pretty poor, and the user base spread out thinly.
If I were to nickname Zello something, it would be Christiano. That's because of the amount of Christians that use the app to talk to each other about God. I'm not sure why there are so many channels on this app devoted to that sort of thing, but believe me they are numerous, and they are active. I popped in to one to listen to the people talking, and while they sounded nice (although very devout and sometimes not the most logical of sorts), I couldn't find much grounds to add to the conversation. However, I did find the process of communication very interesting and very workable. While there are quite a few Christian channels, there are also other channels too: some mainly emergency channels, and a few general chat channels run by people that make their egos clear in the descriptions. I did happen to find a very funny roleplaying emergency call channel, but that was ruined by a little kid who couldn’t shut up (and wasn’t even very understandable).
The app has a good interface (mostly) which allows you to find groups through featured listings and search for your own groups. When you search for your own groups you won't find many popular groups at all, and there's no way to organize the search results either by active users or anything.
Zello is a good app, but one that isn’t worth much due to its poor categorization and the difficulty present in finding a good chatting group. A category system would help greatly.