A beta release of Cosmos, the web browser that doesn’t need an internet connection, is now available in the US Play Store.
Cosmos emerged out of a 36-hour hackaton session by four college and high-school students in the US. Here’s how it works: when you enter a URL in the address bar, Cosmos sends it via SMS to a web service made with Twilio and Node.JS, which loads up the website content, removes any CSS, scripts, and images, archives the minified version and sends it back to the device via one or more text messages. The app intercepts the messages, reassembles the content, and displays the requested web page. Because all the communication goes through SMS, there’s no need for a data connection.
As promised, the team behind Cosmos managed to bring a working app to the Play Store in less than a month. The devs warn that there are some bugs, as the app and backend system are still very basic. And, due to the limits of the cloud infrastructure, you may find that the app can’t serve the sites you requested, especially if they are large.
We tested Cosmos beta briefly, and while Android Authority or the Reddit front page failed to load, we had some success with simpler Wikipedia pages. This is clearly a work in progress – pages take a lot to load, and you’ll have to deal with a deluge of text notifications.
For now, Cosmos seems to be restricted to US users, probably to avoid overloading the infrastructure. However, the app could have a far bigger impact in the developing world, where wireless internet coverage is spotty at best. Here’s hoping that more international coverage will be coming soon.