1) IT'S A GAME OF PIGGYBACK
Firechat is a messaging app with a twist - you can send a message without any internet connection or phone signal by exploiting your smartphone’s wifi and bluetooth capabilities. Once they are turned on you can send a message anywhere within a range of about a hundred feet.
2) ONLY ONE HUNDRED FEET?
Wait. It can go further even further because the app turns each handset into a router, which allows any number of users to pass the message down along the chain of the ‘mesh network’.
3) OH, IT’S FREE
Developed by Californian firm OpenGarden, the app is completely free to you and me. If businesses want to use it, they will pay a fee for every contact they make that would otherwise have been impossible.
4) YOU CAN USE IT ON A PLANE
The app can also be used at festivals, at a stadium, on a train. Pretty much anywhere that you ordinarily wouldn’t have any signal to send a message.
5) HOWEVER, REQUIRES CRITICAL MASS OF USERS
Firechat needs a lot of real users if it is to be of any use. The minimum amount of users you would need is 7-8% penetration in urban areas to make it work 93% of the time. However at the moment, there are two new users per second, and a few hundred thousand installs per day.
6) DOES IT ONLY WORK THANKS TO APPLE iOS 7?
No. Many speculated that Firechat relied on new technology in Apple's recently released iOS 7, but the Android app came only a few weeks later which surprised everyone.
7) WHAT’S FIRECHAT LOVE?
A new version of the app, released as Firechat <3, or "Firechat Love", has been released this week and merges the Android and iOS versions into a compatible app, which will expand the mesh even further.
8) IT’S BOTH PRIVATE AND NOT PRIVATE
Groups who want to keep their messages concealed from the prying eyes of the authorities will be able to use the app. However if you want to send a message to someone specific, it won’t be possible, as everyone on the mesh can read it.
9) ACTIVISTS HAVE ALREADY TAPPED INTO APP’S POTENTIAL
Firechat was used in a lot Taiwan earlier this year, when protesting students who wanted to occupying the parliament were told of possible internet restrictions and limited coverage.
10) IRAQ HAS 2ND HIGHEST NUMBER OF USERS
Firechat, which was launched three months ago is almost as popular in Iraq as it is in the US, largely due to the high censorship currently imposed in Baghdad. It is reported that over 40,000 Iraqis have downloaded the ‘mesh’ chat app.
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