September 9, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
A new beta app allows T-Mobile USA customers to browse the Internet without needing a data plan. Through a clever workaround compatible with Android 2.1 or higher, users can send out requests to the web and have the results – slowly and rather inefficiently – returned.
Smozzy works in an interesting manner. The app sends out a request for “websitename.com” through SMS. A server then downloads all the images, text, and formatting, converts the resulting file into a PNG image, and sends it back to the phone using MMS. The user then browses the page normally, clicking links or scrolling down through the PNG (multiple files may sometimes be necessary). The method isn’t very practical or quick, but it’s an interesting way of browsing the web.
“It’s definitely not fast, but it’s not quite as bad as you might think,” developer Jeff Donahue said in a HackerNews post. “While I was testing it, the whole pipeline, from pressing the ‘go’ button to the page being fully rendered could take as little as 15 seconds.”
There are other problems with Smozzy, including it’s inability to securely access HTTPS sites. So why on Earth would anyone want to do things this way? Because you can.
Anyone with a data plan probably won’t bother using this app because browsing the web would take 2 to 3 times longer than it already does. But users with no data plan but have unlimited texting or MMS could use this for hit and run browsing sessions. And if you’re ever in a remote area where T-Mobile coverage is terrible and Wi-Fi isn’t available, this could be a nice back-up plan.