Open Garden is hands down one of the most impressive apps I've seen this year. The app, first introduced at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2012 as the startup that would go on to win the conference title of Most Innovative Startup, allows users to create an "open garden" of internet connectivity for multiple devices to share. The startup's official website explains it this way:

The operators sell us fancy handsets, but behave as if broken networks are a fact of life. … Imagine, instead, if all of the smartphones in any location could use their formidable processing power to share access to the Internet. The result would be an open garden – one without walls. Our handsets would be free to guide each other to the nearest available Internet offramp, regardless of whether it’s a wifi hotspot, a 4G base station or a femtocell. This is the world as Open Garden foresees it, a world in which we start to ease the chronic congestion on mobile networks.

One of the best things about Open Garden is its utter simplicity. Setting up a mesh network where all your mobile devices (and laptop/desktop) share a connection is an absolute snap, as demonstrated in the demo video below.

As you can see, using Open Garden is exceedingly easy. The app can connect devices to the "mesh network" quickly and easily, automatically sharing connectivity and allowing the user to provision that connectivity to whomever he or she wants to connect to the network.

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In the words of Fred Wilson of AVC, "this is a big idea." Open Garden is not only an innovative solution, but one that has a ton of potential. Considering the fact that it's free in the Play Store, there's absolutely no reason not to try Open Garden. Just hit the widget below to grab the app, and head to Open Garden's website for the PC or Mac companion app.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • TheWhiteLotus

    What's the difference between this and a wifi-hotspot?

    • PacoBell

      This is more of a mobile repeater with potentially many internet gateways. It's mesh vs infrastructure.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      When it comes to the technology and capabilities, it's very different. It's a highly robust mesh network for multiple devices. Watch the video, there's no easy way to describe it.

      • celestre

        Hmm I watched the video and I'm still a little unclear on what the difference is in capabilities from a wifi-hotspot.

        • Dipish

          This could probably as well work through wi-fi, I'm not sure yet why they chose bluetooth, but it's the implementation that's important, not the actual underlying connectivity method that they use. 

          They're making software that would allow phones (and other devices) connect to each other DIRECTLY, without any third party, creating a distributed network. You still need *some* devices connected to the Internet in some way if you want to access Internet through that network but not all of them.

          If the network grows well, it can very well live on it's own: imagine being able to communicate for free inside one district or a whole city, not depending on any operator/Internet provider. This project is very important, something like that must have happened naturally, sooner or later. I hope it goes well...

        • http://www.facebook.com/shalunov Stanislav Shalunov

          The main difference today from a user's perspective is that it Just Works.  You open the laptop and use the Internet; the phone stays in your pocket, unlike the W-Fi hotspot that requires 7 taps to activate and then if you forget to disable it, it drains your battery.

          For the future, the main difference will be multi-path Internet access: the ability to use multiple networks at once, for example, multiple data connections and multiple Wi-Fi networks.

  • ericl5112

    And, blocked by US carriers in 3, 2, 1....

  • JamesNCleveland
  • http://twitter.com/Healthierthymes Healthier Thymes

    I guess Im missing something. What does this do that my WiFi network doesn't? 

    • Ignacio

      You have money, so you can afford to have a home WiFi network, people in Africa don´t have one....

  • Slayernet

    its bluetooth not wifi, mesh network via bluetooth..... by passes built in wifi hotspot

  • Slayernet

    its bluetooth not wifi, mesh network via bluetooth..... by passes built in wifi hotspot

  • sssgadget

    But we have to pair Phone and laptop first? So this isn't 'on the fly' is it?

    Can other 'open garden' laptops connect to my phone without authentication?

    • Anthenor

      No discoverability... No pairing... That's part of the magic.

      • amie

         Where's the security? I have a data cap...

  • http://david.ulevitch.com/ davidu

    I'm super bullish on what these guys are doing.  It starts here and will explode. 

  • Keith Thomas

    so if I have this running and walking down the street am I sharing my data plan with whoever else has open garden? yes the concept sounds cool in the future if everyone had it and we had some huge mesh network..but right now i'm just wondering if the pedophile across the park is downloading/uploading kiddie porn thru my data connection?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7GU4N7CVDBJXMZOBFO3DMIQZH4 J

    So I came up with an OMG brilliant idea as I was installing this on my phone...  What if I could portable-ize the laptop client, then sync it up to my dropbox....  Then it'd just be a simple download & I could get any computer online anywhere, any time...  

    Then it dawned on me in order to get it off Dropbox & onto the computer, I'd need some kind of internet connection other than this, so....  

  • Dan

    Neat.  Except for the part where it only works with Firefox.  Firefox isn't just the only browser.  Firefox is the only anything.  You can't go to the Play store, you can't check GMail, you can't do anything except surf with Firefox.

  • Dan

    ...and where did you find the quote that you attribute to the web site?  Right now, the opengarden.com web site has nothing on it but download links and a brag about being a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist.