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FireChat gets offline private messaging

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FireChat, that offline messenger that Hong Kong locals used during the height of their pro-democracy protests, now has off-the-grid private messaging capability. If you recall, you could only use its public "Nearby" tab if you want to talk to people in your area without depending on an internet connection. Now, you can contact someone in private -- provided that you're not the only two people using the app in your town. In order for the PMs to go through, messages hop on whatever's available: multiple local networks, WiFi, Bluetooth and even the internet. According to TechCrunch, FireChat uses the store-and-forward technique, wherein your message is sent to the nearest available network and kept there until the next one becomes available. Don't worry, though: PMs will be encrypted to prevent other users from reading them.

The app's developer, a firm called Open Garden, told TC that messages can be delivered within 10 minutes or so, if at least five percent of a city's population uses the service. Obviously, it would work a lot better if you're in a crowded event, say a music festival, and the app's use is encouraged. But if you'd like to give it a shot anyway, you can get the latest version of FireChat from iTunes or Google Play.

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