A few weeks ago, a messaging app called FireChat launched. It looks, at first, like just about any other messaging app in an already very crowded market, but FireChat is sneakily subversive and quite possibly the most important thing to happen to the Internet since international network hubs began to form in 1995.
(This is the moment when you ask: "Wait ... what? Why?")
FireChat uses a criminally underexploited feature in iOS 7 called the Multipeer Connectivity Framework. This sounds fancy and complicated, but all it means is that one Apple (AAPL) device (an iPhone, an iPad, even an iPod touch) can connect to another without using the Internet. That last part is the most important and worth repeating: The device need not have a traditional network connection -- 3G, wireless, whatever -- but is instead creating its own network with another device. Two smart, connected machines, communicating via their own wireless signals, or Bluetooth, to talk to one another: This is what's called a peer-to-peer connection. It's also how Apple's Airdrop feature works.