Shorthand Mobile Launches TextApps To Bring Web Content To Basic Mobile Phones

TechCrunch50 2008 DemoPit company Shorthand Mobile (formerly Smart Touch) aims to help consumers who don’t use mobile data plans to access SMS and web content. Upon launch in 2008, the startup had developed a suite of basic widgets for mobile phones that visualize SMS services, allowing users to navigate through an intuitive menu. Today, Shorthand Mobile is launching TextApps, a new category of apps that deliver content from websites via SMS in a rich, interactive interface, aiming to expand the capabilities of non-smartphones and provide access to web content for mobile users without data plans.

Launching in beta today on select Motorola and Nokia handsets on AT&T and on Windows Mobile phones, Shorthand TextApps use SMS to expand access to top brands and mobile content including social networks, local search, sports scores, weather forecasts, movie times, news and entertainment. TextApps is an app you download which then creates a more intuitive UI for text-based apps.

Once you download Shorthand, it uses your SMS text messaging plan to connect you to the web content you want. Apps in the TextApps library include CitySearch, Netflix, Facebook Mobile, Twitter, The New York Times and Yelp. Of course, Facebook, Twitter and others have independently integrate with SMS for their sites but Shorthand claims to add more functionality by almost recreating a basic smartphone app. Shorthand is also now available in India on all major carriers and will launch in Brazil this spring. The starup will offer localized TextApps for these countries. Shorthand is free to download, but you will be charged for SMS messages via your SMS plan with your carrier.

As we wrote in our initial review, year, the technology behind is very basic so users shouldn’t expect to see a iPhone like Facebook-app on their phone with TextApps. That being said, the fact that Shorthand has struck deals with Nokia and Motorola to include its offering on their phones and could become a useful way to incorporate extra functionality into basic mobile phones.