In April 16 IssueBy Jeff Smith, Columnist
I just wanted to take a moment this week to tell you about a very cool smartphone application that I came across called HeyTell.
So maybe you have a big family. And maybe they all have smartphones. And just maybe, they all couldn't decide on using the same brand, so as a result, there's a mix of Android, and iPhones, and maybe an iPad and/or Galaxy Tablet thrown in there for good measure. What HeyTell does is allows all of these devices to send quick little voice messages back and forth. If you were ever a user of the Nextel Push-To-Talk feature, then this will sound very familiar. There's no dialing involved, once you've got someone on your HeyTell friends list, then all you gotta do to send them a voice message is just highlight their name and then press and hold the big button on the screen. When you're done talking, let go of the button and it'll send your voice message across to the other HeyTell user as data. This actually has an advantage over the old Nextel system... if you missed a "chirp", you just missed it. But since this is just tiny voicemail like files, the receiver of the message can replay the message again in case they didn't hear it right the first time, and there's a history too, should they be away from the phone when your message comes through.
Adding contacts is pretty easy as well, when setting up a HeyTell profile, you can enter your desired username, email address and phone number. When you go to add a contact, it just opens up your address book and you select the contact from there, whereupon HeyTell grabs the phone number and/or email address of the person you're trying to add and searches its system for it. It couldn't get much easier to be honest, though I will caution you that you need to set your HeyTell privacy setting (yes it has privacy settings, how nice!) to "Low" so that people can message you, else you won't show up when they search for you. Setting it to medium makes it so that friends of friends can message you, and setting it to high makes it so that no-one but people you've approved as friends can message you. If you set it to High before you have any friends, you'll have a hard time being found by others.
How quickly your messages are sent depends entirely on your network connection. On Wifi, it sends stuff nearly instantaneously and out of curiosity I tried it on the local AT&T 2G network and it worked just fine, but your mileage will vary depending on your carrier, and signal strength. I couldn't tell any difference in the speed or the quality of the service, but if your connection is spotty, it would likely not do as good, but that's to be expected.
Another cool feature of the program is that with the click of a button, you can share your GPS location with other users, and it shows up on a scalable map. I think this app would be perfect for the smartphone-wielding family on vacation. If you happen to be out of your coverage area, you can just scan for an open Wifi signal and HeyTell will keep you in touch. Handy for finding your friends at the next county fair too... just have them share their location and then zoom in close (it starts off at the country level).
So check it out. Their website is at www.heytell.com, but there's not much there except for a video giving a demonstration of the service. Its a free application, available in both the Android Market and the Apple App Store. Both parties have to have the HeyTell application installed and running, of course, and using it over your cellular data plan can incur charges if you're over your limit, so keep that in mind. But all in all, its free PTT that's easy as pie to set up, and even easier than that to use.
Have fun with it!