Alternative phone chat lines
On top of its own mobile applications, where Facebook said most messages are exchanged among its 874 million monthly active users (as opposed to going to on a PC), Whats App has some 450 million monthly active users.
That’s well over a billion people—also consider Instagram—exchanging messages with each other every month.
Messages are encrypted as they travel through intermediate devices.
“We’re creating an entirely new way for networks to form themselves,” says Christophe Daligault, chief marketing officer at Open Garden, the company that develops Fire Chat.
Copies of a new message fan out across the network of linked devices searching for a way to reach its recipient; cleanup algorithms later tidy up versions that don’t make it.
If a message reaches a phone with Fire Chat that does have access to the Internet, it will also try and route the message that way like a regular messaging app.
Open Garden has tested it with “OMs”—offline messages—making as many as five hops between different devices before they reach their destination, says Daligault.
It makes it possible to communicate with other Fire Chat 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 Fire Chat users until they get to the intended recipient—an approach known as mesh networking.
Plans to discontinue the Skype Desktop API—the method through which devices interact with Skype, and arguably one of the most popular features—were temporarily halted in November 2013 after an outcry from users and hardware vendors about breaking compatibility with existing products, with no replacement API available to cover those functions.
With the uncertain futures of Skype and Whats App, the need for a new, cross-platform messaging solution is apparent.
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Despite assurances from the CEO that nothing changes at Whats App, confidence in such statements is low, when compared to the shenanigans occurring with Skype, now a unit of Microsoft.