iOS 7 has brought quite a few obvious new features, designed to have an instant impact on the functionality and usability of Apple’s mobile OS. Yet, as is the case with CarPlay, for example, not everything that the Cupertino has thrown into its latest software is for its immediate benefit, and even though you probably haven’t heard about it, Apple added a little something called Multipeer Connectivity Framework into the fold. The intriguing technology allows multiple devices – which needn’t be connected to the Internet – to interact in a manner known as mesh networking, and by utilizing connectivity in the form of Wi-Fi networks, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, users can connect in a daisy chain-like manner, to various ends.
The early fruit of this new infrastructure take the form of FireChat, an iOS app that allows users to hold group conversations with those close by without the need for an Internet connection. There are many situations whereby this could be useful, but considering it is a fledgling technology, but it’s not without its flaws.
We gave FireChat a try, and found that in terms of who you might end up talking to, the possibilities are endless, which is rather problematic in itself. Additionally, there’s not a great deal of structure to the networking aspect of the app, but with further development and improvement as to the way the Multipeer framework is used, there’s certainly a great deal of potential here.
One instance where mesh networking might prove invaluable is in a situation of natural or man-made disaster, whereby cellular signal and normal Wi-Fi hotspots are at a premium. By daisy chaining devices and connecting using a chat app like FireChat, subjects could establish a form of communication even when the traditional systems have been hindered, and in turn, save lives.
Of course, with all of the NSA spy stories lurking about the blogosphere of late, these kinds of systems present the possibility that users could communicate off-the-radar, without the threat of being spied upon by government agencies or otherwise. Sure, it may well be that data is logged by said bodies at a later date when an Internet connection is available, but in a day when privacy is at the forefront of concern, methods of circumventing traditional forms of communication will always be welcomed.
What do you think of this emerging form of p2p tech? Do share your thoughts below!
(Download: FireChat for iPhone on the App Store)
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