New Browsers Allow Website Access Over SMS

New Browsers Allow Website Access Over SMS

The world is crumbling around you. Floodwaters rage, houses have been ripped apart and you need to get vital information from the Internet. There’s no 4G, 3G or WiFi available. What do you do?

A new open source web browser is being developed that allows you to access Internet sites via text messaging. It’s not fast, it will be expensive if you don’t have unlimited text messaging, and you won’t get any graphics (yet!), but you’ll be able to view websites when no data service is available.

Today, it’s Android only and requires a Twillio account plus a back end server, and they still haven’t released the actual code. But – the project looks promising for use in disaster zones and regions without consistent data service (think Africa).

How does it work? You start by typing in a website URL in the Cosmos app. A text is sent to a Twillio number. The text is then send using an API to a back end server.

The backend then gets the website source, removes unnecessary parts of the source, and also removes CSS, javascript and images.  It’s then compressed, encoded, and sent as a series of text messages back to the original device at the rate of three per second. Once the app receives all of the information, it decompresses it and displays it in a readable text format.

For More Information:

The Cosmos Browser
The Cosmos Back End Software

Also see these articles:

Smithsonian Magazine
Fast Company Co.Labs
Silicon Angle


Chris is the owner of Disaster.Com, along with being a business consultant and entrepreneur. In addition to working 80 hours a week on Disaster.Com, Chris is spending another 80 hours a week building a small business consulting company called Fair Winds Strategies. When he’s not working, you can find Chris hanging out with his wife and kids, or on his sailboat (which he spent two years living on and cruising down to the Bahamas from New York, and then back).

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