In the middle of a zombie apocalypse? You’ll still get emergency alerts with this app

It’s ironic that sometimes when it’s most important to communicate, it can be nearly impossible to do so. Disasters or other emergency situations can cause lines to be damaged or congested with millions of people trying to communicate with family and friends. If only we could receive messages even when there is no cellular or internet connection.

That’s now possible with a new app that allows rescue workers to send emergency alerts to offline smartphones. FireChat Alerts, from Open Garden, uses peer-to-peer mobile mesh networking technology to ensure everyone receives all alerts.

An estimated 200 million people are affected by natural disasters or humanitarian crises each year, so it’s vital that communications reach everyone. Recently, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report, “Honoring our commitment to leave no one behind requires reaching everyone in situations of conflict, disaster, vulnerability, and risk.”

FireChat Alerts will be used by governmental organizations, media, and other emergency-related groups to broadcast alerts to mobile devices within a specific geographical area. Consumers will only use the FireChat app (Android, iOS), a separate app that was launched in 2014 by Open Garden so that family and friends can communicate via instant messages without a data connection. It’s perfect for underground transportation and cruise ships, and now with the launch of FireChat Alerts, it’s the perfect app to receive these emergency messages.

Once an alert is sent via FireChat Alerts, smartphones in the area with the FireChat app will receive the message and forward it to other phones nearby, usually within about 200 feet of each other. This is known as peer-to-peer networking since the devices don’t need to have a cellular or internet connection and can connect with each other instead.

FireChat Alerts can be used for not only early warning, emergency, and health advisories, but for weather and traffic information as well.

Peer-to-peer technology isn’t new to Open Garden. Other than the FireChat app, the company launched the Open Garden app (Android) in 2012 for peer-to-peer internet sharing.

Open Garden will showcase FireChat Alerts at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016. It’s already in beta on iOS for select organizations and it’s coming soon to Android. A Windows version isn’t planned.

One thing to keep in mind is that the FireChat app (Android, iOS) must be installed on your phone in order to ensure that you receive emergency alerts. It’s unclear when FireChat Alerts will go live, but it’s better to go ahead and download the FireChat app now, rather than forget about it later.

You can visit the Open Garden website for more information.

Download for iOS

Download for Android

Updated on 05-20-16 by Robert Nazarian: Clarified that the FireChat Alerts app is only for sending alerts (not for consumer use) and users only need the FireChat app to receive alerts.


You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.

Check out 30 of the best iPhone games you need to be playing

The iPhone has some of our favorite games available for any mobile platform. Here are the best iPhone games for every big-name genre, whether you're into puzzles, strategy, or something else entirely.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.

Sharp doubles down on the notch trend with Aquos R2 Compact

As if one notch wasn't enough, Japanese manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new smartphone that has two -- one teardrop style notch at the top, and a bigger notch at the bottom. Here's what the world's first dual-notch smartphone looks like.

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.

Samsung patents show what Infinity-O display could look like on Galaxy S10

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

The best protective iPhone cases to defend against dirt, dings, and drops

If you’re going off-road or work outdoors, it could be a good idea to invest in a tough case. These are our picks of the best protective iPhone cases for all iterations of the iPhone, from the iPhone XS to the 7.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.