Reviewed in Things to Do, Places to Go…
Conceptually cool and functionally rudimentary, it's an off-grid chatroom app with two sections: A topic-less public chatroom for "Everyone", which is as messy and annoying as you might imagine; and a somewhat more private chatroom to connect with other "Nearby" users, using Wi-Fi Direct & Bluetooth to connect with people's devices within a few meters of you. I haven't had the opportunity yet to try the "Nearby" mode in a public place. I just hope the app catches on enough for people to be able to ignore the "Everyone" mode.
FireChat works even without an Internet connection or cellular phone coverage. Use it anywhere: planes, public transportation, cruise ships, campuses, and crowded events. All you need is a few people around you using FireChat. Bluetooth and WiFi need to be "on" to send and receive messages when not connected to a network (yes please turn WiFi on, even if you don't have access to the Internet). And if you are connected to a cellular network or WiFi access point, then FireChat will work too.
You will be automatically connected directly with one another, creating your own network for public and private communications. The more people use it, the bigger and faster your network becomes.
And when you do have access to a reliable Internet connection or cellular network, FireChat helps you reach people worldwide and build your audience faster than on any social network, for free.
Leaders, artists, communities and organizations (news, cultural, humanitarian, sports...) love how quickly FireChat scales. FireChat helps them communicate instantly with large groups of people to achieve their goals.
Get FireChat now with a few friends and start something.
========= How does this work ? =========
FireChat creates a mesh network using Bluetooth and peer-to-peer WiFi. FireChat transmits messages and pictures offline between devices that are located within 200 feet of one another.
Thanks to FireChat’s innovative multi-hop and store-and-forward capabilities, FireChat users form a network that increases in size with the number of devices. It allows messages to hop from one device to the next in order to reach the recipient(s). This is why the more people use FireChat, the better and the larger the network becomes (unlike with cellular networks).
On the mesh network, messages are transmitted seamlessly from one device to the next in order to reach the recipient(s). When an Internet connection or cellular network is available, FireChat uses them to reach remote recipients.
Public messages are visible by anyone. Private messages are encrypted and can only be seen and read by the sender and the recipient.
========= Features =========
• Instantly send messages and photos to anyone around you
• Send private messages that only you and the recipient can read thanks to end-to-end encryption
• Instantly create live chatrooms for discussions on any topic with a few people or as many as tens of thousands of simultaneous users
• Type a hashtag in any message to automatically create a new chatroom
• View the most popular messages in the public conversations
• Public chatrooms and private messages work both offline and online
• Works even without any Internet connection, mobile phone coverage , or data plan
• Devices connect directly with one another within 200 feet of their location
• Multihop and store-and-forward technology create larger networks when several people use FireChat
FireChat has been featured by CNN, the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, and many more around the world.
FireChat is often used at live events - such as the visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines in January 2015 - and large festivals including SXSW where it received an Innovation Award in March 2015.