Mobile chat app FireChat is starting to verify certain accounts today, as we reported it would two weeks ago.
FireChat’s popularity has surged among democracy protesters in Hong Kong in the last few weeks. The app allows users in close proximity to communicate without an Internet connection. FireChat’s nearby mode connects mobile devices directly via a peer-to-peer mesh network rather than going through cell towers. As my colleague Devindra Hardawar pointed out in his article, “Its range is about 40 to 70 meters (131 feet to 220 feet). To reach more remote devices, it sends messages through a series of intermediate devices. The result: The more people using FireChat, the farther its mesh network can reach.”
One of the main flaws with the app, however, is that all communications are public and there’s no way to chat directly with another user. Nothing prevents government authorities from viewing conversations and plans on FireChat. As a result, FireChat creator Open Garden has said it’s also working on encrypted chats, though there’s no word on when those will come out.