Heytell vs Voxer

Heytell and Voxer are two popular PTT (push to talk apps) that offer walkie talkie like service for various  smartphones.  Anyone that has used a real walkie talkie or is familiar with Nextel knows how useful this feature can be.  While text messaging is great in meetings, it’s terrible for driving, not to mention illegal in most places.  Sending someone a quick voice message is often preferable to placing a more time consuming call.  I have compared the two apps, and below is a list of features available in each.

Feature Heytell Voxer
 Walkie Talkie  √  √
 Streaming
 Text Messaging
 Picture Messaging
 Video Chat
 Location Sharing  √
 Group Messaging  $  √
 Privacy Settings (limit contact to friends only, FOF, all)  √
 Block Users  √
 Facebook Integration
 Works on Wifi
 Works on 3G
 No Ads $
 Android
 Blackberry
 iOS

√=included feature $=additional in-app purchase

With the above features in mind, sometimes there is more to an app than just cold hard specs.  Each has its pluses and minuses in my opinion.

Lets start with Heytell.  This is an app that focuses just on the walkie talkie feature.  And it does it well.  It is no frills and has a very intuitive user interface.  I’d single handedly recommend it if it employed streaming like Voxer does.  Instead you must record your message, then wait for it to be transmitted.  This is much like the days of the internet before Youtube began streaming video.  Lots of waiting for no good reason.

Voxer on the other hand tries to do many things at once.  You can of course voice chat, but you can also text and send picture messages.  This makes the app much more flexible, but the fact is the additional features are available as core components on just about any smartphone.  Then there is the thing that makes Voxer great.  As soon as you start talking, the other person hears your voice.  The streaming function works very well.  Then there is the UI.  Its not very intuitive, and it really strays from the iPhone motif.  I don’t expect every app to look like iOS native, but then again, I’d prefer it not look completely out of place.  Then there is the dagger to the heart.  Voxer has no privacy settings.  Its like AIM 1.0.  Anyone can (and does!) message you.  Voxer allows you to block the user, but you still get an annoying popup that makes you think someone you know has contacted you.  In my limited use, I got several chat popups from random strangers.  This alone made me abandon the app.   The blocking feature is very tedious, I believe there are four or five actions required to block that users after the initial badge pops up.

I’m sure Voxer will address the privacy issues, but ideally I’d be even more happy if Heytell added streaming support.  Heytell is just more intuitive and tries to do one thing well instead of a bunch of stuff you don’t want or need.  Both will get the job done, and since both are free, its worth checking either of them out!

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