Yes, you read that right. FireChat is a new app that lets users chat and share photos even without an Internet connection by using an iOS feature called Multipeer Connectivity Framework.
This Multipeer Connectivity Framework works the same way as Apple’s AirDrop that uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to send data from one device to another even though one of the devices isn’t connected to the Internet. Basically, as long as one device is connected, it can share its connection to other devices within its range. The receiver can then pass the previous connection unto another device within its own range, and so on – making communication possible between two devices without Internet or mobile signal.
This service could be used during concerts, outdoor events, or calamities when affected areas don’t have signals. A good example would be last year’s typhoon Yolanda that destroyed the cell sites in Tacloban, making rescue operations tougher. An app like FireChat could’ve entered the scene and provided communication between volunteers using their smartphones.
FireChat is one of the first to use this feature from Apple and requires iOS 7 to function since the MCF technology is unavailable until then. FireChat has a limit of 30 feet meaning users could only be 30 feet apart from each other in order to not break the meshed network.
We’re excited to see what this unappreciated new feature of Apple can do when it gets fully developed — maybe a wider range and stronger connection? As of now, it is exclusive to iOS users (sorry Androids) and is ready to be downloaded at the App store.