Cosmos for Android is a browser that makes clever use of text messages to load up basic versions of websites even without an internet connection.
The app was created in just 36 hours by four students during the MHacks IV hackaton on September 6.
Large pages with lots of text may take a while to load (one of the developers said a large Reddit thread will probably load up in about 12 seconds), but again, this works without data connectivity, so it’s still better than having to hunt for open WiFi or simply staying offline. And it works with links, text boxes, and buttons, so you can interact with the web, rather than just consume raw text.
Even with the massive expansion of wireless internet, there are still areas – even in developed markets – where you can’t connect to 3G or LTE, but you can still get a basic cell signal. But the concept could explode in developing countries where internet access is still underdeveloped or too expensive for most users. There are some limitations of course – besides the limited usefulness of no-images, no-scripts websites, an unlimited or cheap SMS plan is needed. Slow loading times and potential limitations imposed by carriers could also affect the experience.
For now, Stefan, Justice, Rohith, and Shreyas are working hard to develop their initial work into a full-fledged service, with an estimated time of arrival in the Play Store of under a month. The code of the Cosmos app and backend is available on Github. We’ll definitely keep an eye on this interesting project!