Impacts to Zello from iOS 13 and future iOS versions

Background

Apple made changes to its programming interfaces in iOS 13 related to Voice-over-IP push notifications and this has a profound impact on Zello for iOS.

Impact

Apple's changes present in iOS 13 will have the following impacts on Zello:

  • Zello could be killed while in the background by iOS at any time without warning. The likelihood of this happening increases when actively using other apps on the phone or when moving between areas with limited internet connectivity.
  • If Zello is killed in the background, it won't restart automatically, potentially causing missed channel messages.
  • If Zello is not running and a 1:1 call is received, Zello won't start automatically and play the call as you've come to expect. Instead, a push notification will be received by the user, who must then click on the push notification to restart Zello and hear the message.
  • If Zello is killed in the background, accessories won't work until Zello is restarted by the user.

Mitigation

Zello has implemented the following measures to mitigate the impact of the change:

"Keep alive" Setting

How it works 

When enabled, Zello will prevent the phone from sleeping while running in the background, greatly reducing the chances of the app losing server connection or being killed. As an additional benefit, users will experience reduced latency for incoming calls on Zello.

How to enable

This option is enabled by default on any devices running iOS 13 or newer. You can toggle this setting on/off by viewing it in the Zello app: Menu > Options > Support > Advanced settings > Keep alive. The Keep alive setting can also be updated in the management console in the management console under Settings > iOS > General > Keep alive. NOTE: You do not have to make any changes to the Keep alive interval.

Impact on battery life

Enabling the Keep alive option will reduce the battery life of the phone. Expected phone standby time while using this option is about 24 hours. For typical active users, the battery life will be reduced by about one hour. If your users regularly charge their iOS devices, this should not be an issue.

"Notify when terminated unexpectedly" option

How it works 

When enabled, Zello will send a push notification if it detects that the app stopped or lost connection unexpectedly. Users will then need to tap on these notifications to restart Zello and continue receiving Zello messages.

How to enable

This option is enabled by default. It can be changed in the Zello: Menu > Options > Support > Advanced settings > Notify when terminated unexpectedly or in the management console under Settings > iOS > General > Notify when terminated unexpectedly. The option has no effect unless the user is running iOS 13 and the latest version of Zello.

In order to not miss a notification, we advise that on the iOS device you go to Settings > Notifications > Zello > Banner Style > Persistent. The notification banner will persist until the user clicks on it to restart Zello.

Impact on user experience

If the app disconnects frequently, the notification could be a nuisance and result in a user disabling all notifications for Zello, seriously limiting its functionality.

Recommendations

  • If you have devices running iOS 12 or earlier, don't update to iOS 13 
  • If you are looking to deploy new devices, consider using Android:
    • If you must use iOS devices, consider using external battery cases and/or charger connections to extend battery life
  • If you are using devices running iOS 13 or newer:
    • Instruct users not to swipe up to close the Zello app. Closing the Zello app in this fashion will immediately stop it from running in the background.
    • Only turn off Keep alive option in the management console if you must extend the battery life of your devices. We recommend contacting our Customer Success team first for other suggestions on how to improve battery life.
    • Communicate to your users the meaning of the new notification. Contact Zello Customer Success team if you experience any issues.

Future efforts

Zello continues to explore opportunities for improving the user experience for our customers on the iOS platform as well as bringing to Apple's attention the need for proper programming APIs to support low latency push-to-talk applications.

Questions? Contact us or submit a new ticket for support-related inquiries.

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