How To: No Data, No Problem—Use SMS to Connect to Your Favorite Web Services on Android

No Data, No Problem—Use SMS to Connect to Your Favorite Web Services on Android

Recently, a group of Duke University students got together to tackle an age-old problem with mobile devices. You see, mobile data coverage isn't exactly ubiquitous, and many folks have restrictive mobile data plans, which means internet connectivity is not always an option.

The end result of their work is an app that allows you to connect to web services such as Google Search, Maps, Twitter, Wikipedia, and the like, using nothing more than SMS messages. So even if your mobile data connection is spotty or nearing its monthly cap, you'll always be able to connect to the services you need.

Step 1: Install SMSmart

To begin, search for and install SMSmart on the Google Play Store. It's a free app, so the only monetary concern would be your SMS usage if you're on a pay-per-message type of plan.

Step 2: Sign Up for an Account

When you first launch SMSmart, you'll be asked to enter your email address. So take care of that, then press "OK" at the bottom of the screen.

From here, press "OK" again, then SMSmart will send you a series of text messages.

Step 3: Turn Off Data Transmission Notifications

As the app explains, the phone numbers that just sent you text messages are the same numbers that will be used to transmit data. So to avoid a barrage of new messages each time you use this app, the developers recommend that you disable notifications from these numbers.

This process will vary depending on the SMS app you use. For most clients, just select the SMSmart text messages from within your SMS app, then press "Block," "Mute," or "Turn notifications off."

Step 4: Access Web Services via SMS

With initial setup now out of the way, you're ready to access web services with your phone's SMS connection. Standard carrier rates will still apply, of course, but most U.S.-based providers offer unlimited SMS messages.

To begin, select a service from SMSmart's main menu. The search function, for instance, will return Google search results almost instantly, but note that these links aren't clickable, since most websites are too large to transmit over SMS.

Beyond search, there are options for maps, news, stocks, Twitter, and Wikipedia. Data from each of these services will be transmitted over SMS, so no mobile data is used.

Do you plan on using SMSmart to avoid mobile data overages, or is it more of a "just in case" app for when your data connection is spotty? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

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no longer available on google play...

Still available for me in Google Play. Might be geo-restricted, so you might not be able to use it where you live.

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