Hidden iOS 7 Feature Lets You Chat Without Internet

The next time you're at a crowded place unable to send a message because of a congested network or poor signal, hold off on tearing out your hair. FireChat is a messaging app that lets you chat with others without a  connection -- Internet or cell.

Thanks to an iOS 7 feature called Multipeer Connectivity Framework (MCF), the app tethers you to devices around you and sends messages directly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct.

MORE: 10 Things You Didn't Know Your iPhone Could Do

As its name suggests, the Multipeer Connectivity Framework (also known as mesh networking) makes use of multiple iOS 7 devices (or "peers") and creates bridges between them. In doing so, the technology extends the Internet connectivity and signal in the area, creating an ad-hoc network that any MCF-capable device can jump on.

"As long as there is a Firechat-enabled device in the node in the chain, there's really no geographic limit to how big the ad hoc network can be," creator Micha Benoliel told GigaOm

This is the same technology that Apple uses in its built-in AirDrop file transfer service, and has been relatively unknown until FireChat was featured in the App Store last week. FireChat is only available for iOS 7 devices for now, but creators Open Garden already have an Android app called Internet Sharing that shares Internet connections between laptops, tablets and phones without requiring root access. 

MCF  technology can be extremely helpful not only in big sporting events, in the subway or when traveling abroad, but especially in case of natural disasters that jam cell networks.  We look forward to seeing this technology being used by more people and devices, making it more useful. 

Cherlynn Low
Staff Writer
Cherlynn joined the Laptopmag team in June 2013 and has since been writing about all things tech and digital with a focus on mobile and Internet software development. She also edits and reports occasionally on video. She graduated with a M.S. in Journalism (Broadcast) from Columbia University in May 2013 and has been designing personal websites since 2001.