Cosmos Browser Will Let You Surf the Web via SMS

Cosmos Browser Will Let You Surf the Web via SMS

In countries like India, access to the wireless Internet can be slow and unreliable - most people would have experienced network drops even while driving through small stretches of straight roads with no obstructions.

An in-development Android app called the Cosmos Browser wants to give you a workaround to this, using only SMS based text messages. All a user has to do is enter the URL of the site to be loaded in the Cosmos Browser, and the browser sends this information as a text message. This is done using a service called Twilio, which allows software developers to make and receive calls and text messages using its web APIs.

Once the message hits the Cosmos backend, the page is fetched and then stripped down to the bare text elements. These are then sent to users as text messages, so you can read a web page with just SMS access. The messages are compressed before sending, and uncompressed by the Cosmos browser, which then displays the text, reducing the amount of data that needs to be transmitted. And once the page is loaded, the SMSes get deleted, so you don't clutter your inbox.

You would have to pay for the text message to request the data, but in many countries, receiving messages is free, so this is actually a very cheap way to browse the web as well, leaving aside connectivity issues.

Cosmos is the work of a four man team, and Stefan (who goes by ColdSauce on GitHub and Reddit), who is one of the two people working on the Android side of development, answered a few questions about the app on Reddit.

He was able to confirm that the app works with international phone numbers, and he also said that the app will probably be released to Google Play in less than a month.

According to him, the backend sends three SMS messages per second, and loading a screenful of Reddit takes around 12 seconds. He added that the team wants to improve their compression technique, which would make loading faster.

It is possible that the app might not work in India in its current form. SMS Messages from Twilio to India are categorized as Promotional messages and will not be delivered if your number is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry. To check your status, go to this page. If you're already on Do Not Call, then you can disable this by sending a message with the text "STOP 0" to 1909. You can also stop all calls and messages again by sending an SMS with the text "START 0" to 1909. In case this does not work, send "START DND" to 1909. Promotional messages are also limited to operate between 9am and 9pm IST each day, and each Twilio sending number can only send 100 messages per day in India.

These regulations mean that Cosmos will probably not work too well in India, but it is possible that workarounds could be found by users here.


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Further reading: Cosmos Browser, Apps, Android, SMS, Internet
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