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Hike Direct allows people to message off grid; mesh network missing

Hike Direct

Hike Messenger has introduced a new feature called Hike Direct which allows users to send messages off grid, i.e. without the use of telecom networks or an active Internet connection. It lets mobile phones connect with one another directly within a 100 meter radius, send messages and share files directly up to a speed of 40Mbps. Users will have to upgrade to the latest version of the app. The feature is available only for Android users. iOS and Windows Phone users will the get the upgrade next year.

Hike Direct uses the same WiFi radio that connects phones to the Internet and establishes a peer-to-peer network between two users. To use it, users need to open a chat with a friend and choose Hike Direct from the three dot menu on top right of the screen. Hike automatically pairs up with the other phone and lets you chat and share files with your friends without the internet.

Hike now claims that it has 70 million users in India and that there are about 20 billion messages being sent per month. The company also claims that its users spend about 140 minutes per week on the app.

MediaNama’s take

Technologically, this is one most important updates Hike Messenger has rolled out. However, it needs to be pointed out that Hike Direct establishes only a peer-to-peer network and cannot make a mesh network for a large group as in the case of Firechat.

In a mesh network, once a critical mass of people arrive at a location, it goes “off the grid” and connects one phone to another via WiFi radio and messages travel from one user to another. Firechat came into prominence shortly after it launched, when protesters at the Umbrella Revolution student protests in Hong Kong used it to communicate, due to the threat of the Internet being shut down.

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That is something that Hike Messenger needs to look into considering that the government has been on a spree in shutting down telecom networks and mobile Internet during protests.

Other developments at Hike

– In September, Hike started aggregating Hindi news stories and will be rolling out the feature for other regional languages as well. The messenger had launched the News feature last month where it would aggregate stories from leading English dailies.

– In the same month, introduced free group calling on hike connecting up to 100 people in a call. The addition will allow users to make free group calls with the press of a single button once inside a group chat. This feature is available on Android and is expected to roll out on iOS, Windows later this year.

– Earlier in August, the Bharti Softbank backed company integrated Hoppr and Tiny Mogul Games (TMG) under its brand name. Hike mentioned that it would also integrate games from Tiny Mogul, like Shiva: the time bender, into its own app, as well as add coupons from nearly 200 brands on the app.

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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