An app which allows users to message without needing an internet connection is seeing a massive growth in popularity in Iraq.
FireChat uses a ‘private internet’, created by linking multiple phones together via Bluetooth in a chain-like form, to send data without needing connection to the internet.
It was originally designed to combat the difficulty of messaging in areas with poor mobile phone reception.
However, the app is now seeing particular uptake in Iraq, where internet access is increasingly restricted by the government.
The country is now the second-biggest user base for the app, after the US.
Using Bluetooth’s capability for ‘mesh networking’, the app also allows one internet-connected smartphone to share that connection to any smartphone in the vicinity, meaning multiple users can browse the web at once.
Christophe Daligault, VP of sales and marketing at Open Garden, the developer of FireChat, told the Financial Times that the app had seen 40,000 downloads in Iraq in the last week, despite the fact that no App Store exists in the country.
“We’re amazed that so many people in Iraq managed to find the app,” he said.
“Even if no device in this local network has access to the internet, people can still exchange messages.”