Many of our users find creative and unique ways to use our services. And ever so often, an app comes along that reboots how we use existing technologies. SMSmart is that type of app. When our mobile experience is synonymous with internet access, we often take our data connections for granted. But when we do inevitably cross into a dark zone, we realize how important it is to be connected. SMSmart brings us back to the basics and provides access to useful apps without data. All this is done through a unique UI supported by Plivo's SMS text messaging API.
Here’s a video of how it works.
We’ve recently caught up with Jay Wang and the team behind SMSmart to get more insights on what they’re building.
How did you come up with the idea for SMSmart?
The three of us were studying abroad in Europe during our Junior year of college. While we were able to use our smartphones from the US, the cheap plans we got abroad did not come with data. Thus, whenever we went out, we were always scanning for wifi hotspots. It was really frustrating — to be so dependent on data, and have no access to it. Thus, because we had unlimited minutes and texting, we would end up texting or calling a friend for help. We knew there had to be a better way.
In your own words, what does SMSmart do?
SMSmart is the ability to access your favorite smartphone apps without using any data. We do this by using text messages for data transmission. We’ve also built a UI to simulate all the most important apps on your phone. Sample apps include, browser search, maps and directions, wikipedia, twitter, news and stocks.
What’s the pain point that SMSmart is trying to solve? Do you have a target group (e.g., demographic, industry, region, profession, etc.)?
Depending on data connections for information access is not only unreliable, but it can also be expensive. In the US, users pay (on average) $22 per gigabyte of mobile data, compared to $12 per gigabyte in Europe and Asia. Prepaid carrier users often pay significantly less, but the trade- off with a lower cost plan is usually a reduction in quality. They can’t access data whenever and wherever they wish since the cheapest plans provide only wifi-based wireless service. However, with SMSmart, these users can rely on their texting plan to access data. They no longer need to pay an additional premium for capped cellular data access.
We also have begun gaining traction among global travelers, who love our app for the ability to help them navigate while going through various countries without paying an outrageous sum for roaming data. Instead, they can rely on cheap unlimited texting packages while they enjoy their adventures abroad.
What are the most common apps that people use on SMSmart?
Definitely our Search function. Then comes News, Maps, Wiki, Yelp, and Stocks.
What are the next steps for SMSmart? And what is your grand end goal?
Currently, we are focused on both growing our user base and developing more applications for the SMSmart platform. The ultimate goal is to build a beautiful, robust solution to the problems of expensive and/or spotty data.