I have a confession to make. I am absolutely addicted to HeyTell, and I’ve actually managed to get a good portion of my friends on it. What is HeyTell? Putting it simply, it’s a smartphone app for both iOS and Android which gives you “push-to-talk” capability. Users send messages to one another by recording messages. The company says that these audio files typically are no bigger than an e-mail, allowing them to be transferred quickly.
The fun factor of this app hasn’t escaped mobile phone users: about four million registered users are now on the app. The most surprising thing may be the fact that there is no huge company behind this: it’s merely a husband and wife developer team–Steven Hugg and Jen Harvey.
Word of mouth has propelled this app to where it is, as Hugg and Harvey haven’t done any significant advertising on its behalf. This just goes to show you this thing is real–and the company’s recent server upgrades (which apparently let it handle about 100 million users) also provide some anectodal evidence that those people are sticking around.
According to a recent post on TechCrunch, users on average are sending about 1.5 million messages per day on the service, and at peak times 35 messages are received every second. That sure sounds like success to me.
The possibilities for use of this app are nearly endless. For example, texting and driving is a problem. Now, I’m not advocating this at all, but I’ve heard from a number of friends that this solves that problem because you’re not looking down to text, and you aren’t keeping you hands off the wheel too long to hold the phone to your ear.
Another use is to end the “where are you?” question (God, that has to be the most annoying text/phone call ever!). By clicking the locator button before sending your message, your location is sent and displayed on the screen of the person who receives it. Kind of nifty if you ask me.
Yes, there are drawbacks. First off, its not instantaneous. That means the user will first have to download and listen to your message first before responding, and vice versa. This adds quite a bit of lag to conversations (although keeping your “chirps” short minimizes this). Also HeyTell is a bit buggy at times — sometimes I find messages don’t download properly requiring me to restart to receive them.
Regardless, this app has that “killer” feel to it. It adds value to the device rather than just being gimmicky. Add in its fun factor and I really do think HeyTell is on to something here. It may have not been the first push-to-talk app, but it’s certainly the best one.