Last week I wrote about Jott, which allows users to text without Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. It works using Bluetooth, which means you have to be within 30 feet of the person you’re communicating with. Jott is perfect if you’re at a conference and there’s no signal, or as discussed, if you’re on a plane and sitting away from your travel companion. My wife and I tried it briefly last week while flying over the Atlantic.
This week’s app, FireChat, also lets users communicate on their smartphones without internet or cellular connection. However, it uses “mesh networking.” According to Skift, FireChat uses your phone’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth antennas “to pass a message to another phone running FireChat that’s located up to 200 feet away. That phone relays the encrypted message on, until it’s delivered. The process can take 10 to 20 minutes to travel across a dense metro area, assuming about 5 percent of the city’s population has downloaded the FireChat app—a big assumption.”
But as noted by Skift, if enough people download the app, the potential is there to help international travelers avoid roaming fees.
FYI: When my wife and I tested it briefly on a plane above France, it worked instantaneously whether we were next to each other or I was all the way in the bathroom.
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