August 1, 2015

THIS SEEMS USEFUL: Messaging App Weaves Smartphones Into an Alternative Internet: FireChat can link Android and Apple phones into a long-range communications network even when the cell network is down. “An upgrade to FireChat released today could make the app much more useful and powerful. It makes it possible to communicate with other FireChat users beyond the roughly 70 meters that your device can reach with Wi-Fi. Private and public messages can now travel longer distances by hopping between FireChat users until they get to the intended recipient—an approach known as mesh networking. Messages are encrypted as they travel through intermediate devices.” Even more useful would be if it could connect to other phones via direct radio connections at cellular frequencies. That’s much more challenging, though, and — I’m not sure — might require hardware changes, too, as I think all the cellular protocols divide base-to-mobile and mobile-to-base frequencies, so that I assume cellphones can only transmit on the latter.

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