Zello is the top app in the App Store due to Hurricane Irma

Zello is the top app in the App Store, due to Hurricane Irma
Tomas Griger/123RF.com
Zello, a walkie talkie app, is helping volunteer efforts for Hurricane Harvey in a very big way. The app is currently being downloaded by millions as Hurricane Irma gets closer to South Florida. But why is this app so helpful during such stressful times?

Zello is an app that relies on Wi-Fi and cell services and works very much like a walkie talkie. It’s able to support a large number of people in dispersed locations from all over. Smartphone apps that are able to help coordinate responses and rescues will, of course, become crucial during times such as these. And Zello is just the main one being consumed at the moment.

“With the crush of new users and emergency situations, most of the Zello team is working long days either maintaining capacity or helping with customer support,” the company’s CEO, Bill Moore, recently told BuzzFeed News.

Zello originally launched in Russia in 2007 as LoudTalks, and now has 100 million users worldwide. Six million new registered users have joined the app since Monday, and it is the top free app in the iOS App Store. The app is available for a large number of platforms, including Android, BlackBerry and iOS, as well as Windows Phone 8, Windows PCs and Land Mobile Radio.

The communications app, however, will not work without Wi-Fi and/or cellular data service. Founder and CEO/CTO Alexey Gavrilov has already expressed on their blog that Zello “is not intended as a replacement for instructions from government emergency agencies or sanctioned rescue organizations. It is not a hurricane rescue tool and is only as useful as the people who use it, and as reliable as the data network available.”

The app allows anywhere from two to a thousand users to communicate live with one another. People who have the app can start their own channels, like their own groups, join one of the thousands of channels that already exist, or chat one-on-one. Zello is also available in more than 20 different languages and has a web-based console. The company has already admitted that it’s had to up the number of servers for the app ever since Hurricane Harvey.

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