Among the instant messaging apps there is one that has drawn the attention of many smartphone users worldwide, especially of those who look for alternatives to the most popular messaging services. We are talking about FireChat.
Perhaps you have heard the name or read something about it in the news. Indeed, FireChat became very famous during the pre-democratic protests in Hong Kong 2014 because it enabled the demonstrators to send messages without needing Internet. Since the Chinese government blocked Internet to dissuade people from organizing protests and demonstrations via social networks, FireChat became the only alternative for the demonstrators.
What makes FireChat different from all other instant messaging services like Telegram, Line or the powerful WhatsApp is just that: it enables users to send messages without needing Internet nor even coverage.
You don’t believe it? It can really be hard to believe but it’s the truth (although it has limitations). We will explain what is about and how in works below:
- How does FireChat work?
This app works as a mesh network that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi P2P, to transmit text messages and images without Internet between devices that are a maximum of 70 m away from each other. This way, FireChat users create a network that expands as new devices are added to the network.
This means that the more people that use the app, the better and faster the net will be (contrary to what happens with mobile networks). Messages go from one device to the next until they reach the target user/s.
Therefore, if 1,000 people meet on the streets, they will be able to communicate between them even if there is not network coverage or signal… But all of them must have FireChat installed on their smartphones.
- When is it especially useful to use FireChat?
The 70 m maximum distance between the devices prevents FireChat from being a competitive alternative to Whatsapp, Telegram, Line and others (although FireChat managers have stated that there is no real limitation since the app only needs 5% of the population in the city center to have the app installed on their devices to work). FireChat can be, nevertheless, very useful in certain situations or places in which instant messaging services cannot be used or don’t work properly due to lack of Internet connection, network coverage or network saturation. Just to give a few examples: in the underground, in a plane, on a cruise, when attending music festivals, concerts and other events that attract a great number of people or even to locate victims when natural disasters or accidents occur.
- You don’t need to register to use it.
One of FireChat’s special features is that no registration is needed to use it. This way, users can choose tha name that they want and use the app anonymously.
- FireChat in the world
With every day that passes, this app has more and more users and nowadays, it counts with more than six million users all over the world. United States is on top of the list and is closely followed by Hong Kong, India, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, China, United Kingdom, Japan and… Spain! Did you know that?
Have you heard about FireChat before? What do you think about it?