Walkie-Talkie App Tops the App Store as Hurricane Irma Approaches

Zello PTT Walkie Talkie

During Harvey, its users exchanged advice and organized rescue efforts, with several channels created to discuss the aftermath of the hurricane.

Zello was the top free download in both Apple's App Store and the Google Play store on Thursday, after gaining fame as the top communications tool of the "Cajun Navy" Harvey rescuers in Houston.

Zello is ridiculously easy to use. The app even works on older 2G networks.

This app is popular because you can use it to communicate with friends or groups easily even when cellular connectivity is bad, and phone calls and other apps might not work well. It really is like you're talking to them on a walkie-talkie.

Hurricane Irma is causing destruction throughout the Caribbean, and it appears like Florida is next in the deadly storm's crosshairs.

I imagine a Zello channel like this is invaluable when someone can't access tv or the internet. It can work with very little cell signal, in areas where calls may not go through. (Also, your Wi-Fi won't work if you don't have power and your cable line is down.) Zello gets around this by turn your phone in a walkie-talkie of sorts that can prove to be helpful if you are in need of assistance. This can be minimized by turning the screen off unless you're connected to a power source. "More broadly, technology like Zello allows people to solve things closer to the problem, where it's so effective".

Zello says it has 100 million users - although before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, analysis by Sensor Tower showed it was only the 1400th most-downloaded app. Have you ever tried browsing or posting to Facebook at a large football game? Its developers claim it's such a small amount of bandwidth that Zello messages will slip right through while other connections are lost. "So we're doing everything to make sure that they get what they need".

"We estimate that GasBuddy has been downloaded approximately half a million times in the USA across the App Store and Google Play since hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25", says Sensor Tower CEO Oliver Yeh. A long conversation with a friend will also drain the battery faster.

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