NowSMS Lite Android Modem – Quick Start Guide (2017)

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in Support Blog

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This document is intended to provide a quick start for setting up NowSMS Lite to use an Android modem for sending and/or receiving SMS and/or MMS messages. The configuration steps are similar in the full version of the Now SMS/MMS Gateway, however there is a separate Quick Start Guide available at https://www.nowsms.com/now-sms-mms-android-modem-quick-start-guide that contains instructions specific to that product.

Using a GSM modem, or an Android phone as a modem, is a quick and efficient way to get started with SMS and/or MMS applications. No special service provider subscriptions are required, just a standard SIM card that has been activated for use with a mobile operator.

NowSMS controls the modem to send and receive SMS and MMS messages.

NowSMS allows end users to send and receive SMS and MMS messages via a web interface or their regular e-mail client.

NowSMS enables applications to send and receive SMS and MMS messages using standard protocols such as HTTP, SMTP/POP3/IMAP, SMPP or MM7, or using API examples for Java, PHP or command-line interfaces

NowSMS and NowSMS Lite support the ability to use Android phones as GSM modem devices for both sending and receiving SMS and MMS messages.

For most customers, using an Android phone as a modem is preferable to using a dedicated GSM modem device. These reasons include:

  • LTE Support – LTE based Android devices can provide higher speed support for MMS sending and receiving.
  • Network Compatibility – Some mobile operators (and modem device manufacturers) assume that modems are used for internet access only and disable SMS and/or MMS support for modems. This is not an issue for Android phones.
  • CDMA Support – For years, US based customers have asked us about modems that can support Verizon and Sprint. Android phone support allows us to support those network operators using both CDMA and high speed LTE.
  • Broad Device Availability – For customers interested in trying NowSMS, it is far easier to locate or acquire an Android device than a conventional modem.
  • MMS Performance – With conventional GSM modems, MMS performance is limited by the mode switching required to switch between data and SMS channels. There are no mode switching delays mixing SMS and MMS traffic on Android devices.
  • Multiple Modems – USB connectivity (and driver quality or lack thereof) is a major limitation for systems with multiple conventional GSM modems. For Android phones, the NowSMS server connects to the Android phones over WiFi or cellular data, providing far greater performance for NowSMS to simultaneously control multiple modems. Modems can even be located in different physical locations to maximize signal strength. (The NowSMS server communicates over WiFi or cellular data to an app running on the Android phone.)

System Requirements

1.) Android Phone running one of the following Android versions:

  • 2.3 (Gingerbread)
  • 4.0 or 4.1 (Ice Cream)
  • 4.2 or 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
  • 4.4 (Kit Kat)
  • 5.0 or 5.1 (Lollipop)
  • 6.x (Marshmallow)
  • 7.x (Nougat)

2.) WiFi or Cellular Data Connectivity for Android Device

3.) PC running Windows for NowSMS software. Supported versions of Windows include Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows 2003 Server, Windows 2008 Server, and Windows 2012 Server. Server, workstation, 64-bit, 32-bit, business and home editions of these operating systems are supported.

Supported SMS and MMS Message Types

SMS text message formats supported include all standard text formats, including long messages, Unicode characters and emoticons. (Other binary SMS formats, such as WAP Push, are not supported at this time, and can only be supported by dedicated GSM modem devices. Message class attributes such as Flash are also not supported by the Android interface.)

MMS support may be limited by content types and size restrictions imposed by the mobile operator.

 

Connectivity Options

The Android phone should be running an Android version between Gingerbread (2.3) and Nougat (7.x).

The NowSMS software runs on a Windows PC and will communicate with the Android device using TCP/IP.

There are 2 ways to configure this connectivity in NowSMS Lite:

1.)   Local WiFi Mode – The Android device is connected to WiFi and is on the same network as the NowSMS PC. When running on the same local network, the NowSMS PC and Android device can find each other without requiring manual IP address configuration.

2.)   Remote via Cloud – This is the easiest option if you are not familiar with, or do not wish to be concerned with networking requirements. The Android device and NowSMS PC both maintain a connection to a secure cloud service which establishes a secure and encrypted tunnel for communication.

Important Notes About NowSMS & the Android Phone

Please note that after the NowSMS Modem software is installed on the Android Device, received SMS and MMS messages will be processed by NowSMS instead of the built-in messaging client.

It is possible to configure NowSMS in a send only mode to prevent this, but it is important to note that the NowSMS software assumes that in most configurations, NowSMS will be the only application processing SMS and MMS messages on the device.

Of course, the NowSMS Modem software can be easily removed or temporarily stopped to allow other standard applications to again process messages.

It is also important to note that the NowSMS Modem software will cause the battery of the Android device to be used more quickly. This is because NowSMS keeps WiFi active so that the device is available when messages need to be sent out. In most configurations it is expected that the Android phone will be connected to a power source at all times.

Installing NowSMS Modem on the Android Phone

Step 1: The settings on the Android Device must be configured to allow applications from unknown sources, so that the application can be downloaded from the NowSMS web site.

Go into Settings on the phone, look for Unknown Sources under Security Settings.

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Android will display a caution message about the security implications of installing applications that have not been verified by Google. This setting must be accepted to enable the setting.

We recommend that the Android phone running the NowSMS Modem software should be dedicated to that task and not be used for other applications, to minimize the risk of enabling this setting. This setting may be disabled after the NowSMS Modem application is installed.

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Step 2:

Open the web browser or Chrome and go to the download page on the NowSMS website:  https://www.nowsms.com/download

Scroll down to locate the download link for the NowSMS Modem App

Some versions of Android will warn that this type of file may be harmful and require you to select OK before downloading the application.

The NowSMS Modem App is contained in a file named NowSMSModem.apk.

Most recent versions of Android will display a link to open this file.

If the open link does not work, or no option to open the app is displayed, the easiest way to locate the download is to swipe down from the top of the screen where it will be shown in system notifications. Press on the notification to begin the install.

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If the download does not appear as a notification, go to Applications and use the Downloads app to locate NowSMSModem.apk.

Step 3: Complete the installation of NowSMSModem.apk by allowing the requested privileges.

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It may be necessary to press Next or scroll down before the Install option is presented.

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Open the App after it is installed.

Step 4: Configure NowSMS Modem by opening the application.

The default settings assume the device is using WiFi to connect to NowSMS on the same Local Area Network.

Other connectivity options require additional setup on the NowSMS server, and are discussed later in this document.

We recommend configuring the Device Name setting to a name appropriate for your installation. The default Device Name is the phone number, if it is available from the network.  Some networks do not allow the phone number to be read by applications. In those instances, the Device Name will default to an Android unique device identifier.

Press Settings to change the Device Name, and then press Save.

Step 5: On most Android devices (4.4/KitKat and later), an additional settings button will be displayed: Hide Messages from SMS App.

By default, on these versions of Android, SMS messages sent or received by NowSMS modem will be logged in the messaging database on the device.  This may cause performance or storage issues.  This button installs NowSMS Modem as the default messaging application and disables this logging.

Step 6: The Android phone can now be accessed from a NowSMS installation. Note that the messages received counter will display “(not enabled)”until a PC running NowSMS has been configured to receive messages from this modem.

Installing NowSMS Lite on a Windows PC

A fully functional, but time limited, trial version of NowSMS Lite can be downloaded from the NowSMS web site at https://www.nowsms.com/download-free-trial.

Run nowsmslite.exe to install the NowSMS Lite software.

The installation requires administrative privileges on the Windows system and Windows will display a warning about administrative privileges before installing the application.

The default installation settings are acceptable for most installations, and the sequence of installation prompts should resemble the following. The button that must be pressed to continue is highlighted in the following images.

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When the installation is finished, NowSMS Lite may again display a prompt about the number of days remaining in the trial license. Press OK to continue.

NowSMS Lite is now loading and querying your local network to look for Android modems. This may take 30 to 45 seconds without any visible notification. If NowSMS Lite does not start within 2 minutes, double click on the NowSMS Lite icon to begin setup.

 

Configuring NowSMS Lite

There are 2 ways to configure the connectivity between NowSMS Lite and the Android device.

  • Local WiFi – The Android device is connected to WiFi and is on the same network as the NowSMS PC. When running on the same local network, the NowSMS PC and Android device can find each other without requiring manual IP address configuration.
  • Remote via Cloud – This is the easiest option if you are not familiar with, or do not wish to be concerned with networking requirements. The Android device and NowSMS PC both maintain a connection to a secure cloud service which establishes a secure and encrypted tunnel for communication.

For Local WiFi Mode, NowSMS Lite will query the local network to locate Android devices with the NowSMS Modem application loaded, and display a list. Select the device and press Next.

In some cases, NowSMS may not be able to find the Android device.  Possible reasons for this include:

  • NowSMS and the Android device might be connected to different access points which create separate networks and are not bridged.
  • The wireless access point may have isolation mode enabled (very common on guest networks), which prevents devices from communicating with each other.

In situations where the devices cannot communicate locally, Remote via Cloud connectivity should be considered as an alternative. To configure this mode, first assign a device name and secret to be used by the device.

When you press Next, NowSMS might prompt to confirm starting service processes with the following prompt:

NowSMS will connect to the cloud service to acquire a unique Cloud Server ID.

On the Android Device, under Settings, configure this Cloud Server ID, along with the Device Name and Shared Secret.

When the NowSMS server confirms that it has connected with the device, it will display the device connection properties.

MMS messaging may require additional configuration.  NowSMS Lite will attempt to read the MMS settings from the device, however in some instances this is not possible or incorrect.  This is why we suggest testing MMS sending and receiving on the device before installing the Android app.

If Use Default MMS Settings is checked, this means that NowSMS Lite believes that it has the correct MMS settings for your mobile operator.  We recommend pressing Next to continue and use those settings.

If Use Default MMS Settings is not checked, this means that NowSMS Lite cannot determine the correct MMS settings for your mobile operator.  In this case the MMS Proxy Address and MMS Server URL settings must  be manually configured in NowSMS Lite, and the MMS APN must be configured in the Android device settings.

We recommend using the default settings for ports and protocols during initial configuration.  It is not necessary to install the service as this action will be performed automatically when you press Next.

The final installation step is to send test messages to verify that everything is configured correctly.  Select Yes and press Next.

Enter a phone number and use the Send Test SMS and Send Test MMS buttons to send test messages.

 

NowSMS Web Interface

To access the NowSMS web interface, it is necessary to define account credentials.  This is done by creating an SMS user account in the NowSMS configuration (under SMS Users).  These account credentials can be entered when accessing the web interface at http://localhost:8800 or http://127.0.0.1:8800 from a web browser on the same system.

 

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