David Stuart

FireChat app lets you connect without internet, mobile

AN iPhone app which allows you to chat with people around you - even if there is no internet connection or mobile phone coverage  - is set to change the way we stay connected.

FireChat, the brainchild of crowd sourced connectivity provider Open Garden, uses little unknown features in Apple's latest operating system for people to talk 'off the grid''.

The application is particularly designed for sporting events or concerts where mobile phone network congestion makes it almost impossible to get messages out.

"Whether you're on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there,'' a promo for the free app says.

According to its creator, the magic comes from one of Apple's iOS 7 most advanced technologies: the Multipeer Connectivity Framework, which FireChat is built upon.

Instead of creating a network of friends, colleagues or shared interests, FireChat creates a constantly morphing community composed of other FireChat users in the vicinity, Micha Benoliel, Open Garden co-founder and CEO tells Gigaom.

The framework lets Apple devices form direct connections via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without an internet connection acting as intermediary.

Features of FireChat include:

• Instantly message anyone around you on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch,
• Chat and share photos with one person or with a group,
• See what people are talking about everywhere, or create conversations that only people near you can join,
• "Nearby chat" works best within 10 metres of your location
• No Facebook or email login, no password to remember,
• Use it at home or when traveling anywhere in the world,
• No significant impact on battery consumption,

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