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I'm working on a project in which an ESP8266 is the brain of the device. I want to add new features to the device controller later but this requires that the user open the controller and reprogram the ESP8266.

I want the user to be able to update the firmware with his smartphone (maybe through an application). How can I do that? Is this possible with this chip?

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    yes, you can use an http POST to push in a new firmware, look at the OTA examples – dandavis Aug 22 '17 at 18:20
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ESP8266 OTA can be performed through a web browser as detailed in the ESP8266 OTA information page.

Since a smartphone has a web browser I can see no reason why you can't use that.

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