FireChat bringing off-the-grid messaging to Android

Messaging without the internet

FireChat found its way from iOS to Android today, offering an interesting, decentralized way of instant messaging. FireChat plugs into a kind of mesh network, where mobile devices connect to one another over Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth, and not requiring any outside involvement on the internet. Obviously the range on this is limited, but at least it works when you’re outside of cellular coverage, plus it’s an interesting open local network to meet other people nearby. Image sharing is also enabled, which is nice, but the lack of private, one-on-one messaging might be a problem.

The developers have been working on other stuff in this space for awhile, including Open Garden, which aims to share internet connections between PCs and mobile in a similar mesh network set-up. Any takers? What's your favorite messaging platform?

FireChat will be available for free in the Google Play Store later today (we'll update this post when it is. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s an interesting idea, and a new take on a mostly-stale instant messaging paradigm.

Press release:

Open Garden releases FireChat, enables off-the-grid messaging on Android

New free app allows you to chat with people around you, even when no Internet access or cellular phone coverage is available.

San Francisco, CA - April 3, 2014 - Open Garden announced today that its newest app, FireChat, is now available on Google Play. The app takes advantage of Open Garden’s proprietary mesh networking technology and gives people the ability to chat with others around them on Android devices - even when no Internet connection or cellular coverage is available.

FireChat demonstrates what's possible over peer-to-peer networks. 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 around and start chatting.

“Many people asked us to bring FireChat to Android. We first launched FireChat on iOS two weeks ago. It was an instant success. FireChat reached the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 80 countries around the word, adding more than one new user per second." said Micha Benoliel, Open Garden’s CEO. “I am proud to say that we are now able to deliver a best-in-class peer-to-peer chat experience to anyone with an Android device. And thanks to its multi-hop capabilities, FireChat may extend the range of peer-to-peer communications significantly."

FireChat enables communication for scenarios such as disaster recovery and public safety. FireChat is also well suited for any situation where you don’t have reliable connectivity including schools and colleges, public transportation, stadiums, clubs, concerts, conferences, conventions, construction sites or outdoor festivals.

About FireChat

The FireChat App is available for free on the Google Play store and at www.opengarden.com.

  • Instantly message anyone around you on Android devices,
  • Works even without any Internet connection or any type of mobile coverage
  • Chat with one person or with a group of people at once,
  • See what people are talking about everywhere in the “Everyone” mode, or create conversations that only people near you can join in the “Nearby” mode,
  • "Nearby chat" works best within 30 feet of your location,
  • Easy: 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.
 

Reader comments

FireChat bringing off-the-grid messaging to Android

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Isn't it easier to just 'talk' to the people around you, instead of installing this app to message them on their phones which should also have the same thing installed. Seems an absolute waste of time and effort on the developers part

Posted via Android Central App

Well, sometimes talking isn't practical. The main use case, as I see it, is at big parties. Coverage isn't always great, too loud to talk, and too busy to find someone you're looking for especially easily. That scenario could extend to concerts.

..all of which can be done on your good ol' WhatsApp/hangouts/groupme etc apps as well :). Has to be a party in a jungle or something to lose coverage these days :D
Posted via Android Central App

At big festivals, like San Francisco pride, cell coverage is almost non existent. I could see this being really handy when networks are overloaded. Though admittedly, I would prefer this to be a feature of WhatsApp rather than another messaging platform.
Posted via Android Central App on my Moto X

I read through, but dont think I saw anything about cross-platform support -- will it work between android and ios?

Last time I flew they went around checking all electronic devices were powered off - apparently some devices still emit radio signals in airplane mode, so they don't allow it any more.

Posted via Android Central App