Messaging using internet applications has become one of the most popular ways in which we communicate with one another. Smartphones have the capability to use our internet connection as a messaging line. If you’ve ever texted someone who was internationally travelling, you most likely have used an app like WhatsApp, which allows you to message any number from any location using just your internet connection.
However, even in this digital age, there are multiple instances where internet connection can still be inaccessible. Whether it be a financial, geographical, or political situation that’s preventing one from having a solid connection to the cyber world, everyone should have the right to digital communication in the 21st century if they want it. Luckily, apps that are made specifically for offline messaging, messaging without any internet connection, are rising in popularity. Here’s a list of offline messaging apps that are being discussed in the tech community now.
Bridgefy is a new app that’s available for both iOS and Android devices. The app uses your phone’s Bluetooth radio connection in relation to other smartphones around you as a messaging line. Using your smartphone, Bridgefy will immediately connect you to any other smartphone user within a 300 foot radius, it doesn’t even require your actual phone number. In order to add and message a person they need to be pre-saved in your contact list and then you’ll be ready to text. While 300 feet may not seem like a large range of space in relation to texting, if you’re in a situation where your town experiences a complete blackout and you need to check on your loved ones nearby, this app would be perfect for you.
Bridgefy Co-Founder Jorge Rios
It’s important to note that offline messaging is a relatively new concept. All of these apps can only be used if they’re communicating with someone who is also using the same app. The internet runs so many aspects of the planet’s inner workings, so individuals in tech development don’t really focus on projects that are based on the issue of being “offline.” However, the world is a large place that is still underdeveloped, so creating offline messaging capabilities, no matter how minor, is huge.
FireChat is another offline messaging app available for both iOS and Android devices. Like Bridgefy, FireChat uses a bluetooth connection as a messaging line. However, FireChat only works with devices within a 200 foot radius. Additionally, the app requires users to make an account with them in order to use it. While both of these features may seem like a major disadvantage, FireChat also has the ability to connect to regular WiFi. This may not seem like a benefit, considering we’re talking about offline communication capabilities, however, FireChat can use WiFi for messaging even when there’s no cellular connection or service (for example in a plane or underground). Users have reviewed that the messaging lags, however, the app is free and is offering the ability to message using WiFi exclusively, so it’s a give and take.
Briar is an app that’s only available on Android devices, however, it’s definitely worth mentioning. Like Bridgey, Briar doesn’t require users to register with their actual phone numbers, instead it’s simply your name and a set password. Now, you and your fellow Briar users can message without cellular or internet connection. You can add contacts by entering in your friends’ “codes” which every user receives once they sign up.
Finally, we’re going to throw it back to one of the original modes of close-range, wireless, internet free communication: using a walkie talkie. No, I don’t mean you should actually go out and buy a set of walkie talkies, although that’s also not a bad idea — instead, download the Two Way app. ‘Two Way: Walkie Talkie’ is an app that’s available for both Android and iOS devices. Two Way doesn’t require your phone number, email, password, internet or cellular connection; it literally works like a Walkie Talkie. You and your friends/family just need to be within a close enough range and tuned in to the same channel to talk. Due to the fact that the app is meant to be exactly like a real walkie talkie, if people within the surrounding area tune into your radio channel, they can listen in and communicate themselves if they wanted to, so be careful. This app is a simple solution to offline communicating with people in your area; which can be extremely helpful in situations of natural disaster or if you’re with a group of friends and get separated.
While offline communication is currently as advanced as a simple walkie talkie, these solutions can be extremely beneficial depending on the circumstances. So while we all wait for the tech world to create a device that lets us talk to whoever, whenever, regardless of internet and cellular connection, these free apps should do the job in the meantime.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.