FireChat allows you to chat with friends, family, and coworkers without having to rely on internet access or phone data plans.
- Uses radio waves to directly connect users in a daisy chain
- Chat with thousands of people in group chat rooms
- Create private conversations with your closest friends
- An anonymous alternative to traditional messaging apps
- Requires no internet access or data plan
- Requires buy-in from a large amount of users to function as intended
- Anonymity prevents little recourse to protect yourself from unwanted solicitation
With the gathering of data by tech giants, ordinary people are becoming concerned about how much privacy they have when they go online, and some of these concerns are justified. So much of our information is out there, and security breaches in the past few years have demonstrated that even the most secure data can fall prey to a crafty hacker. But challenges spark innovations, and a number of enterprising developers are looking for new ways to communicate in the digital age without exposing our data. Open Garden is one such developer leading the pack. Their FireChat app allows you the functionality of a modern messaging app without being tethered to a data plan or internet network, and its applications go well beyond those worried about their security. FireChat was listed as one of the top 10 social networking apps in 124 countries, and it's proven its value in natural disaster situations where data and internet coverage may be spotty. It's also been recognized as a valuable communication device in compromising situations like protests and contentious elections. FireChat is inherently designed for communication in large groups. Tens of thousands of individuals can be contained in a single FireChat room, but it allows users to scale down to match their needs. Communicating directly with an individual in a designated chat room allows you to initiate a private conversation. FireChat bypasses the necessity of WiFi networks and traditional phone towers by relying instead directly on the radios in every cell phone. The strength of FireChat is predicated on the size of the group in which it's functioning. That's because the radio waves that are sent out from a phone piggyback off those of others, with each device connected to FireChat extending the geographic size and power scale of the chat network. As befits an app that prides itself on its anonymity, FireChat's functions play it looser and faster than more traditional messaging apps like FaceBook Messenger or Trillian. All users have to do to get started is download the app and create a basic profile. There's no vetting process, meaning that you can retain your anonymity through the use of a pseudonym if you'd like. From there, you can either create your own chatroom or connect to existing chatrooms. The process of connecting is fluid. Typing in a hashtag comment will either create a new chatroom with that designation or, if it already exists, connect you to the relevant chat. Users looking for a more traditional format for their conversations can use FireChat to create private chats. All you have to do is enter the names of your contacts to add them. You can also share the information of chat rooms on your existing social media platforms by clicking the star on the top corner of the screen when you're in a chat room.