Coachella is sold out. But if you tune into FireChat, you’ll know what’s happening.
To win free tickets to Coachella, install FireChat and follow the steps below!
How to Participate:
* Download the app.
* Send a tweet from the app (click the + sign).
* Add #Coachella in the message.
Important Details and Rules
* We’ll announce one winner each day at the end of Friday, April 11th and Saturday, April 12th.
* Each winner gets one ticket valid for one day of the following weekend (April 18th – April 20th).
* The tickets will be made available at the front desk of the Saguaro Palm Springs Hotel (located at 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA) or mailed to your address in the USA or Canada.
* Only available to participants residing in the United States or Canada.
* Open Garden is not responsible for accommodation nor transportation to the festival.
* Limit one entry per user.
* Winners will be contacted via Twitter. Keep your eyes peeled or follow @firechatapp and we’ll DM you!
Photo Credit: Flickr/Sputnik mi amor_ (CC BY 2.0)
Two weeks ago, we launched FireChat for iOS. Utilizing iOS 7′s new Multipeer Connectivity Framework, the app lets you chat with folks nearby even if you’re without a WiFi or cellular connection. Much to our delight, it soared to the top of the charts in dozens of countries, adding more than one new user per second, reaching #1 in its category in several countries – including Brazil, Spain, Taiwan, and Chile – and landing in the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 80 countries around the word.
Many people asked for an Android version and today, they too can join in the fun. We’ve released FireChat for Android, now available on the Play Store. The app takes advantage of Open Garden’s mesh networking technology to enable peer-to-peer connections with other nearby Android devices. If you’re connected to the Internet, you can switch to ‘Everyone’ mode to join a larger chatroom of users in a wider geographic range.
• Instantly message anyone around you on Android devices,
• Works even without any Internet connection or any type of mobile coverage
• Chat with one person or with a group of people at once,
• See what people are talking about everywhere in the “Everyone” mode, or create conversations that only people near you can join in the “Nearby” mode,
• “Nearby chat” works best within 30 feet of your location,
• Easy: no Facebook or email login, no password to remember,
• Use it at home or when travelling anywhere in the world.
Happy New Year!
Like many of us, the end of December is a time to reflect on the cumulative accomplishments of the past year to see how much closer we’ve come to realizing our ambitions.
At Open Garden, our ambition is to enable access to knowledge and the global hivemind through creating apps for sharing Internet connectivity, promoting net neutrality, and cultivating community around decentralized and distributed technologies.
We’ve released three new apps – WiFi Opener, WiFi Hotspot, and WiFi Keychain. Together with our mesh networking application, we’re developing an Internet Connectivity Suite to keep devices connected to the Internet wherever they are.
Our user base has grown to over 3 million users!
Learn how Open Garden works in under 30 seconds by watching this fantastic cartoon we made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5Pz8wL-1Ys
Over the past year, we’ve added five excellent humans to the team: Zhuzun, Software Engineer; Jenny, Technology Evangelist; Andrew, Software Engineer; Radjiv, our technology Intern from France; Sandira, VP of Strategic Alliances; and Christophe, VP of Sales and Marketing.
In October, we won the Global Mobile Innovator’s Conference’s Global Startup competition out of over 300 participating startups!
We started a Meetup Group called Tech Garden SF: Decentralized and Distributed Technology and have held four successful meetups! If you live near the San Francisco Bay Area, join us at our next event to meet and learn from other folks interested in and working on decentralized technologies.
Not in the Bay Area? Start a Meetup group in your area! We’ve also launched an Ambassador Program to support the growth of distributed technologies in local areas, an offshoot of the series of Google Hangouts we had this fall with our community.
It’s been an exciting year for the team at Open Garden, and we’re looking forward to carrying the momentum into 2014: The Year of Decentralized Technology!
We find ourselves in the midst of an exponential growth in technological advancements and innovations aiming to solve the struggles associated with lack of sufficient infrastructure and the various strangleholds on certain communities and mediums. With an artillery consisting of software protocols, hardware schematics and the will to bring power back to the people, start-ups and hacker communities across the world are taking it upon themselves to work around the already existing unreliable systems by creating decentralized and distributed tech. Here at Open Garden, we see ourselves as one of these enablers of liberation by helping individuals share Internet access with others around them, actively developing new technologies along the same vein and generating discussion on similar concepts.
With that said, I predict such technologies are going to become the forefront of innovation in 2014. The more problems individuals face by centralized forces and infrastructure, the more intuitive this technology becomes.
Why should people be accessing the Internet from a single provider when sharing access is as easy as installing an app which makes it faster and more reliable? It’s becoming easier than ever to exchange payments directly and cost effectively and the sharing economy improves the efficiency of goods, homes, services. As the movement continues, these sorts of developments will allow neighbors communicating back and forth to have their messages sent directly to each other instead of to a tower miles away in between.
It is the start-ups and hackers who innovate around the flaws to reinvent how goods and services are valued. Centralized control that we are so familiar with will be replaced with decentralized and distributed networks giving individuals power and 2014 will be the year that this concept is made mainstream. So keep an eye out for developments in this field, especially those by Open Garden.
Last week, Open Garden went live on the Amazon AppStore. Kindle Fire/HD/HDX owners can now freely download and install Open Garden to keep their Kindles continuously connected to the Internet. These newer models of the Kindle, which run a version of the Android operating system, are ideal for use with Open Garden’s mesh networking app. While some models allow for 3G/4G data plans, these plans are often expensive – particularly if you exceed your data cap.
Open Garden overcomes these obstacles by automatically connecting to the Internet via your smartphone or laptop’s connection. The application is especially useful in homes with many devices connected simultaneously, as it combines the connectivity of multiple carriers and optimizes for offloading onto Wi-Fi.
“We’re excited to provide our mesh networking solution for Kindle users,” said Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of Open Garden. “Just in time for the holiday season, they can use their Kindle to connect to the Internet whenever they need, turning their e-reader device into a fully-capable tablet.”
Download Open Garden on Amazon’s AppStore!
Open Garden, the San Francisco-based startup dedicated to seamless Internet connectivity, has just released WiFi Keychain, the fourth app in its Internet Connectivity Suite.
Our first app in this suite, the Open Garden Mesh Networking app, allows users to seamlessly share Internet connectivity across their mobile devices, and can be downloaded at http://opengarden.com. Open Garden is a mobile broadband network made up of peer-to-peer connections between devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets. We use the density of these devices to create a network and provide anybody with ubiquitous access to the Internet on the go.
WiFi Opener allows users to store the passwords of protected Wi-Fi networks with the community of app users. When in range of a shared network, WiFi Opener users are automatically connected. This app is designed especially for Wi-Fi networks in public places that are protected yet intended to be open, such as those at conferences, parks and coffeeshops.
Wi-Fi Keychain is the latest addition to this suite of Internet connectivity apps. WiFi Keychain keeps your Wi-Fi network information up to date across all of your devices. Rather than connecting your smartphone and tablet independently to each and every new Wi-Fi network you join, Wi-Fi Keychain lets users type in the password just once. The login information for the network is then replicated across all of that user’s Android devices, enabling automatic connectivity when in range of a registered Wi-Fi network.
WiFi Hotspot, another new app in Open Garden’s connectivity suite, provides users with a timer for their personal hotspot. Setting a timer for tethering helps to save on battery life, with the additional advantage of providing a much simpler interface for tethering functionality than going through the Settings menu.
“Just consider how much time is spent finding and typing in Wi-Fi passwords for each device you own, setting up tethering, and syncing between devices,” said Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of Open Garden. “We have solved these problems with simple apps that keep you seamlessly connected from everywhere and from all of your devices.”
Last month, the Open Garden team went on a company retreat to Lake Tahoe, a majestic freshwater lake on the border of California and Nevada. Our aim was to spend some time together in a beautiful, inspiring and relaxing place. We spent three days hiking the mountainous trails surrounding the lake, making it to the top of a few quite splendid summits:
Once we reached the top – or something close to it – Micha bellowed “Opeeeeen Gaaaarden!!” at the top of his lungs, a call which reverberated admirably well, then proceeded to pelt us with snowballs.
Zuojun, Paige, Micha, Radjiv, Andrew, Jenny and Alessandro giving Firechat love.
In between hikes, the team made delicious home-cooked meals in the spacious cabin we rented out via AirBnB, played games of pool, enjoyed the sauna and took dips in the indoor pool. Our ‘retreat’ was far from pure leisure, however: when not engaging in the above activities, we were on our laptops responding to emergency communications from relief workers in the Philippines, brainstorming thoughts and ideas around the future of Open Garden, working on the soon-to-be-debuted new website, and coding a pool table simulation in place of the disheartening reality.
Zuojun, Jenny, Sandira, Micha, Andrew, Alessandro, Paige, Christophe and Radjiv squinting into the sun after a long, arduous journey up a mountain off the beaten path.
Several months ago, Open Garden announced it’s official acceptance of Bitcoin donations and a month later had an exhibition table at the Bitcoin 2013 conference in San Jose. There is no surprise that the Bitcoin community understands the importance and relevance of mesh networking for peer-to-peer communication and Internet access. The Open Garden protocol and the Bitcoin protocol are nothing alike on the face but are rooted in the philosophy of decentralization and this is clearly illustrated in a video interview I did a few weeks ago with Andreas Antonopolous from Let’s Talk Bitcoin. We discussed several concepts relating to decentralized and distributed technology with the cryptocurrency at the focus of our conversation.
Since the popularity and price has risen substantially throughout the year, we’ve seen several meetups rise up for in-person Bitcoin trading in various cities around the world. I’ve been to the local meetup here in SF a few times which was taking place outdoors where data connections usually vary between devices. The meetup in San Francisco has since moved indoors due to the approaching cooler weather, however the importance of mesh networking can still be applied to supply better reliability for Internet access. At the Bitcoin 2013 conference, I was able to demonstrate accepting bitcoin donations to a wallet on a device without a direct connection to the Internet by using Open Garden.
In the following example, I tested both the Coinbase and Blockchain Android applications. Notice there is no direct WiFi or data connectivity on the phone, yet I was still able to send a Bitcoin from one wallet to the other by using Open Garden to connect indirectly to the Internet through a tablet connected to WiFi.
Not only can Open Garden enable sharing Internet connection between devices for trading currencies but it is also extremely useful for merchants that use a tablet for point of sale yet don’t have steady access to wi-fi. Simply using a personal data plan for sharing with the tablet using Open Garden would be all a merchant needs.
What other situations could mesh networking help in the exchange of Bitcoin? Has Open Garden helped any of your transactions? I’d love to hear your ideas and stories in a comment on this post, in an email or as a tweet!