Current design vs desired one
We live in the world where one has always stay in touch. Our ability to quickly read emails or just access internet is often essential in our work. And yet still, over 60% of world population doesn't have access to internet. Even we often find ourselves in a position where we either run out of mobile data, don't have any credits on our account or there is no internet connection in our area. We decided to fix this problem with Networkless.
What it does
Networkless is basically an offline web browser, that allows you to view websites even if you don't have access to internet. All you need is ability to send SMS from your phone and in return you can view any website you want in text version.
How we built it
We built an Android app, which looks similar to a traditional web browser. When you type the desired website into address bar, our app will send it as SMS to Twilio service. Our Amazon based server will then collect the HTML code of typed website, compress it and send the code back to user's phone (again, via SMS).
Challenges we ran into
It turned out that the HTML code of websites is usually far too big to fit in text messages. Typical Wikipedia pages contains hundreds of thousands of characters, while typical SMS can contain up to 160 characters. We dealt with it by heavily compressing the HTML file and removing unnecessary parts from it.
What's next for Networkless
Improving the compression of html file is our highest priority. It would decrease number of SMS sent for website to load, and therefore, improve app performance significantly. Other features we wish to implement:
-saving websites offline -Google/Wikipedia search -Wolphram Alpha replies -facebook/gmail notifications -turn on SMS notifications automatically after phone loses internet connection