I recently purchased a plan for an old iPhone 5, which includes unlimited call and text, but no data. I was thinking: would there be a way to browse the Internet through text messages?

I know there used to be something like this in existence for Android, called the Cosmos web browser, but I am looking for an iPhone solution.

What I want is to be able to, for example, send a url through text message to a server (or to my home computer), and get back the html of the requested page, that I could then plug into an HTML viewer. Eventually, I could copy paste a link from that page into another message, and get back the corresponding page.

Another idea: Since I have limited space on my device (only a few gigs), could I set up some sort of service at my home computer to which I could request a movie title through text, and it would send me the corresponding binary or hex of the entire video file through text... Then, I could copy/paste that into a viewer?

I have a Windows computer at home.

Please let me know if some sort of text web browser exists for iPhone, or if this is even feasible.


A week later, I found what I was looking for. After playing around with Google Voice and SMS APIs, I stumbled across an online service that offers exactly what I want, for free.

It's called txtWeb, and consists of just messaging 898-932 with your command, ex. @www YouTube.com returns:

* Home

* (Z)Trending
      o (X) Home
      o (Z) Trending
* Best of YouTube

      o (A) Music
      o (B) Sports
      o (C) Gaming
      o (D) Movies
      o (E) TV Shows
      o (F) News
      o (G) Live
      o (H) Spotlight
      o (I) 360° Video
      o (J) Browse channels
* Sign in now to see your 
channels and recommendations!

  (K)Sign in
      o (L) YouTube Red
 (N) Show ad...<br/><br/>
Reply M for more<br/>---<br/><

Which is a bit outrageous but fulfills exactly what I needed.

Other commands include @wikipedia [query], or @daak, which offers a rudimentary email checking interface for gmail.


  • This is so sad and beautiful at the same time. Mar 15 '16 at 22:37

That is not feasible. The SMS API does not allow any third party app to send SMS. Same for SMS reception. SMS app doesn't allow receiving binaries. You could encode it in Base64 kind of encoding but that would be real slow and need you to copy/paste a lot of content manually. IMHO forget this I'm sorry.

  • I would be receiving the texts by hand, and quickly copy/pasting them into an HTML viewer. When I meant to send binaries, I meant I would physically send the 1s and 0s in a message. Because I can :D. So far, I have made progress: I created a Google Voice number for my computer, and found a nifty Google Voice API for C#, my favorite language, and managed to use it to send my phone a few texts. The problem with which I am struggling now, however, is receiving the messages on my computer. I can't figure out how to parse what the API returns on a Get Inbox call...
    – vasilescur
    Mar 4 '16 at 11:34

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