Chatting just went off the grid. A little known App launched recently lets users send and receive messages without data or cellular connection. Catch: works only for iOS devices.
Called FireChat, the App connects devices — iPhones, iPads and iPods — using iOS7’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework. Devices talk to each other on bluetooth or wi-fi, acting as nodes to relay a message.
It’s quite simple to use: download the App — it’s free — set up a login name and password and you are on. The next screen gives you an option two chartroom to join.
The “Everyone” chatroom, as the name suggests, lets you see messages streaming from all over, four or five states away. Not much use, unless you are tracking an emergency situation.
The second is the “Nearby” chatroom, that connects you to iOS devices nearby — your friends, relatives and strangers, really helpful in areas with poor connectivity.
Imagine yourself in an underground club, trying to connect with friends outside. FireChat is more likely to be more helpful there than your carrier’s network.
The App has been developed by crowdsourced firm Open Garden, whose founder CEO Micha Benoliel helped Skype to launch SkypeIn and SkypeOut.
FireChat has been an instant success with tech gurus impressed not only by the App but the underlying networking technology. “FireChat could facilitate texting communities in areas of the world with sparse cellular service or expensive SMS plans,” technology website The Verge said in a review of the app.