Berkanan

Chat with people nearby. Even offline, on an ✈️.

#1 Product of the DaySeptember 22, 2018

Berkanan is a simple Bluetooth messaging app for chatting with people nearby. It makes it really easy to have public and private conversations with nearby users without the need for Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. No account needed.

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Reviews

Zeeshan Ahmad
Harjap Uppal
Kareem
 +1 review
  • Pros: 

    Discover and chat w ppl nearby, using Bluetooth only

    Cons: 

    People nearby also need to have the app installed.

    Great idea, coverage can be large with "relay people".

    Levente-Károly Görög has used this product for one day.

Discussion

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Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
Hey there, solo founder and maker here. After failing to 🚀 a hyperlocal dating app, I went back to the drawing board and after 2 years of hard 👨🏻‍💻 I came up with Berkanan. I bet you've never ever made a call in ✈️ mode. Well, now you can and for free. Offline audio calling is not the app's main use case, though. Berkanan was designed to be a general-purpose messaging app that you can use to connect with nearby users, be it your contacts or new friends. I think it's most useful at festivals, airplanes, or in emergency situations when there is no Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. The idea isn't something new. The most notable competitor is probably FireChat. However, in my opinion, FireChat is too complicated, is centralized, requires you to register for an account, and, most notably, appears to be abandoned by its developer. At the time of this writing it isn't even updated to last year's iPhone X. Not to mention Siri Shortcuts support or Apple Watch app. Probably by now you were 🤔 why this name, "Berkanan"? It's my tribute to Bluetooth, the technology that powers it. Bluetooth's logo is composed from the "ᛒ"(erkanan) runic character with 2 little "teeth" stitched to its left side. The app is free and contains a non-consumable in-app purchase which allows you to customize your profile, like your name or photo. This business model was inspired by 🎮 Fortnite. Don't hesitate to contact me in the comments if you want a promo code for this IAP! I have 100 of them. While trying the app out I want you to think about how could it reach its first 10000 users. What use case would it be? If you have an answer to this question, or have any other feedback for that matter, then please share. Thanks! I'm humbled you read this far and gave me your attention.
Arnav Bansal
Arnav Bansal@itsarnavb · Just messing about, at the moment.
@zssz Hey thanks for making this! I'd love to learn more about the technical challenges associated with using Bluetooth
Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
@itsarnavb I had 2 main goals designing Berkanan. 1️⃣ I wanted it to work in the background, not just only when the app was active. This is the reason why it doesn't use MultipeerConnectivity and uses "raw" CoreBluetooth with background execution modes instead. 2️⃣ I wanted it to work out of the box; no pairing and no need for an account. For this I needed to implement encryption on my own (using Apple's frameworks) since I didn't get the encryption that comes with Bluetooth pairing. I made this part available on GitHub since I wanted to make the app's use of encryption transparent. I hope I've satisfied your appetite. 😊
Akshay Moorthy
Akshay Moorthy@akshaymoorthy · Freelance Android Developer
@zssz Amazing stuff, I was thinking about firechat but as you rightly mentioned its way too complicated. Bluetooth is perhaps the most under utilised tech and this elevates the tech to a whole new level. Really appreciate your effort into making this work, would love to give it a try. About reaching people, I believe the only way to get amazing reach for this concept by pitching it only in conferences and colleges. But to start with I think college students are the first to approach coz then they ll attend a conference which ll again have a bigger reach. You can always include referral model for apps like these.
Matt Marsh
Matt Marsh@mcmarsh · just a geek, allgenerations.co.uk
@zssz as others have mentioned I'd imagine good potential for a tie-in promotion of your app at music venues. (I could image dance music clubs where you have advertising on club flyers and banners to encourage people to use your app to chat to new ppl) But could also see this as usefull for older generation in homes where it may they may not feel comfortable chatting directly at first - good way to introduce yourself Also Deaf/hearing impaired communities?
Joshua Talley
Joshua Talley@joshuatalley · Sales Operations Manager, Grundfos
@zssz Thank you for making this. I had the same idea years ago, but not the knowledge or the time to invest in how to even begin. I was excited for FireChat, and disappointed to see it decline. My imaginary use case was partially for a sort of mesh messaging service, but mostly while driving - to alert other drivers of potential hazards ("your passenger tail light is out") with canned responses and also begin creating a crowd-sourced reputation engine for rating each other. The rating thing is maybe not the best (watch the "Nosedive" episode of Black Mirror), but the canned responses might be helpful. Wholeheartedly checking this out.
Nolvia Serrano
Nolvia SerranoPro@nolvia_serrano · CMO at Aave
This is cool. Im going on a cruise next week and internet is super expensive, this would be a great app to communicate with friends without buying internet😃
Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
@nolvia_serrano That's great! Please get back to me with your experience. Would love to hear from you. 😉
Kareem
Kareem@kareem_c
@nolvia_serrano @zssz Certainly Concur, Ship internet is often super expensive for real & bandwidth metered. So, as a use case within a unique encapsulated environment, this sounds like a great way to communicate & stay in touch with loved ones|new friends throughout the shipmate community & experience. When Blackberry was uber popular, it was the go to way+free technology to message/communicate (ironically, even more popular than iPhone & I was an iPhone user!) Can you share any size media files too and any specific suggested range distance? Also, @nolvia_serrano Do have a great trip!
Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
@nolvia_serrano @kareem_c Currently you can only send text messages. The range between 2 devices in perfect conditions is about 70 meters (230 feet). Messages travel from device to device. In practice that means your messages can reach further than 70 m (230 ft).
Kareem
Kareem@kareem_c
@zssz Excellent, Thank You for sharing Zsombor. Wish you & your technologies the best of success & growth.
Nolvia Serrano
Nolvia SerranoPro@nolvia_serrano · CMO at Aave
@kareem_c Exactly. That was the key for the success of Blackberry. Thank you for your kind wishes 😃
Ghazayel
Ghazayel@ghazayel · Journalist
Upvoting for two reasons: Hoping to get an android version firechat is complicated
Riyad Arefin
Riyad Arefin@riyad_arefin · Human and a little bit of Web Developer
Isn't it the misuse of technology that we have always been afraid of? Why should we type and chat with the people around us when We can directly talk to them?
Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
@riyad_arefin Good point. Face-to-face human interaction is the best way to communicate, and remains that way. If you want to avoid that or want to be more effective by sending out a text message at once to *everyone* around you then this app will help you out.
Paul Van Tuyl
Paul Van Tuyl@paulvantuyl1
@riyad_arefin I'm thinking more along the lines of when my wife and I can't get seats next to each other on a flight where there's no assigned seating and want to easily communicate, or other situations like that, where normal networks fail us, that this app would be really handy.
Matt Marsh
Matt Marsh@mcmarsh · just a geek, allgenerations.co.uk
Sorry to be the one to ask but any plans for Android version?
Zsombor Szabó
Zsombor SzabóMaker@zssz · Maker @ IZE
@mcmarsh It's a valid question! If this hits off the ground then I will make it happen.