Cosmos Browser

By on Oct 24, 2014 in Technology

In urban North America, we likely take it for granted that LTE and 3G services will be available for our cosmos-browsercommunication convenience. But in some parts of the U.S. and the world, where fast, ubiquitous networks aren’t available, effortless wireless Internet connectivity is simply a dream.

Such cities or rural areas might be in for a surprise from Cosmos, a new browser that’s currently in the works.

This concept sounds pretty crazy – a way to surf the web using SMS text messages. The project is still under development, but should the idea work, its implications could be huge.

The Cosmos Browser is an Android web browser that uses SMS text messages to retrieve the web content displayed in a stripped-down layout. Its creators describe how it works: “After a person inputs a URL, our app texts our Twilio number which forwards the URL as a POST request to our Node.JS backend. The backend takes the URL, gets the HTML source of the website, minifies it, gets rid of the css, JavaScript, and images, GZIP compresses it, encodes it in Base64, and sends the data as a series of SMSs. The phone receives this stream at a rate of 3 messages per second, orders them, decompresses them, and displays the content.”

In other words, once the message reaches the Cosmos backend, the page is retrieved and stripped down to bare elements. Afterwards, these are sent to the user as text messages, enabling to be read with just SMS access. The compression and decompression of the messages is done by the Cosmos browser to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted. Once the page is fully loaded, the SMSs are deleted, and your inbox is uncluttered.

The team behind the project is formed of four people. One of them, Stefan, has answered a few questions about the app on the popular user forum site Reddit. He stated that the wait time for a screen to load is around 12 seconds, not as snappy as we’re used to, but sometimes later is better than never, right?

Stefan confirmed that the app works with international phone numbers. At first the pages on Cosmos will be text-only documents with light formatting, but images are under development to be included. The app is temporarily removed from the Play Store due to dried up funding, but encouraged by the over 37,000 text messages handled so far, the creators are working on an update.

What do you think about Cosmos Browser? Will it catch wings?