Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
FireChat, a messaging app that launched to quite some fanfare in March this year, lets you talk anonymously to people around you even without an internet connection. To make this happen, it uses Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework in iOS 7, while on Android it makes use of its own mesh networking technology.
Today, a new version has landed on both iOS and Android devices, which lets users create what’s known as “firechats” — basically groups on different topics. This means that you can move from one group discussion to another when you are at a party, for example, chatting to people you may not know around you about common topics.
Being offline lets you chat to people within 200 feet of your location, but if you have Internet connectivity, you get access to a wider geographical range of firechats. However, for now the “Nearby” mode only shows chats from people using the same OS, though the company told us it was working on multi-platform interoperability to widen its appeal.
The company behind FireChat, Open Garden, says that its messaging app is best used for situations where no reliable internet connectivity is available, including concerts, conferences, outdoor festivals and on public transport.
Though there seemingly aren’t that many occasions in which people need to use FireChat, Open Garden says that it has reached the top 10 among social networking apps in 115 countries. About 21.7 percent of its users are based in the US, while India comes in second with 8.8 percent, and Brazil ranks third with 7.2 percent.
Headline image via Shutterstock
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