Israeli Team Wins At Int’l BattleHack Competition With App To Call Plan-Free
This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
The next time you’re stuck without cellphone service, you might still be able to make a phone call – if you have a Paypal account.
Taking advantage of a little-known feature in iOS, AirHop lets users “hop” onto another person’s device (if it’s also running the AirHop service) to make a phone call or send a text in exchange for a PayPal-enabled payment.
Paypal was impressed enough with the project to award the Israeli team behind it $100,000 in its just-completed “BattleHack for Good” contest, held at Paypal headquarters in Silicon Valley.
“Good” in this case is defined widely. According to the rules, teams had to come up with an app that made a positive social contribution while using APIs from PayPal, which processes online payments, or its credit card acquirer components Braintree or Venmo. As PayPal is a payments business, any app using its technology would most likely be a commercial-oriented one. But the hacker teams pulled through, creating 14 new apps, ranging from helping the visually impaired to creating an open marketplace for education.
But it was AirHop, created by Tel Aviv hackers Shai Mishali and Pavel Kaminsky, that was good enough to score the $100,000 PayPal prize. Calling AirHop “extraordinary,” John Lunn, a top PayPal executive and Battlehack judge, said that it was “absolutely disruptive. What [the team from] Tel Aviv built from a technology standpoint was incredible. I’ve never seen it before.”
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