A new iOS application called FireChat has been released by Open Garden Inc. and allows Apple Phone users to transmit messages to each other without the use of Wi-Fi or Network connections.
FireChat is a chatting app similar to WhatsApp (which was bought by Facebook in February 2014) however it requires a lot less from the user in terms of ‘registering information’ and ‘connectivity’. To get started, the user is required to register with only a name in order to be dropped into a fast-moving chat room that is shared throughout the country.
The app works by using Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework which lets the user talk peer-to-peer with other users. This framework works regardless if there is an actual Wi-Fi or network connection present. As the user is connecting directly with other users through Bluetooth, the FireChat app can be tailored to speak directly to one person, a group session or on a country wide scale.
In order to active the group session, the user must ‘mesh’ and create a daisy chain network within the group. Christophe Daligault from FireChat has commented that “mesh networking is like this unicorn; we’ve been talking about it for 20 years. DARPA has put a lot of money into it. But it hasn’t really taken off in a big way anywhere.”
Within the Apple Store, FireChat has already risen to the number one download spot in Australia, Taiwan and Latin America.
Some users have already noted the negative possibilities associated within the app (e.g. unknown users sending content of a sexual nature) however the positive possibilities outweigh this, for example, should a dangerous event happen on a large scale, users can send a message to anyone nearby requesting help.
In a time when many users are concerned with privacy, FireChat allows users to connect without creating a way to link the content back to specific users. The username can be changed at will and the messages get deleted as soon as the app is closed.