Recently brought to my attention is a new thing called the “Serval Project” and, in a nutshell provides a 0-infrantructure network. Basically, no routers, masts or anything is needed for it to work. For the more technical people, it appears to be a Wi-Fi Ad-Hoc network with file sharing, phone and text messaging protocols. However, due to the Android API a lot of the work is done inside Android itself.
There is a Developer beta Android App you can download and install (outside of Android Market), but only certain devices are working because of the APIs needed to work. The whole source code is available for anyone wanting to take a peek. They’re hoping to port the software over to other platforms which are popular in developing countries as a way of communication, however a public beta is expected later this year.
From the video, the app’s UI is still a little to be desired and a few things need changing, but it looks to work.
It looks very useful for developing countries, and if this was integrated into handsets it would be useful in disasters.