Are You on Facebook Lite Yet?
Facebook has always tried to reach out to the most, if not all, of the human population on earth. Facebook currently has around 1.6 billion monthly active users. Seeing as how Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, it is evident that the company doesn’t want to leave out a single human being. However, despite a world hungry for social media sites, there are still millions who are unable to jump in due to slow internet speed or limited amount of data. To solve this problem, a team of Facebook engineers worked on ways to make the site accessible to those who were left out.
What came out of it was Facebook Lite, a tiny Android-only app that is lighter and less cluttered compared to the original. The app was launched in June 2015 and recently crossed a 100 million mark. That is the magic number that tells us how fast users have accepted the lighter app in just a few months. The app is less than 1MB in size and practically takes no time at all to download.
There are certain design changes with the ‘Lite’ version but the core functionality is uniform in both the Facebook app and its lighter version. Features like News Feed, status updates, photos and notifications on Facebook Lite are almost identical to the original version.
Facebook Lite is the company’s push to make basic Facebook services available in developing countries at the lowest price possible. There are places in the world where buying internet data isn’t the easiest as it is expensive. The app works fast with any device, and is data efficient, providing the same features as you would find on the original app only with less data consumption. It’s like Facebook with an in-built Data Saver mode.
As it works even on slow mobile networks, the page loads comparatively faster. Users can upload, download and check photos instantly, for which users had to wait for more than a couple of minutes on 2G networks. Users can have a real-time conversation with friends – either one-on-one or in group – on the slimmer Facebook edition.
One of the best features about Facebook Lite is that the app helps conserve battery life. Facebook has been recently in the news for being one of the most battery draining apps out there, especially for iOS users. As is the case, we could be seeing a Facebook Lite for iOS in the near future, unless Facebook does something to reduce battery consumption in its original app.
Vijay Shankar, Product Head, Facebook Lite said that the app was made for developing countries like India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and Philippines where slow internet speeds is still a major issue. One of the biggest chuggers of mobile data is videos. To solve this, the team behind Facebook Lite offered users the option to see how large a video so that they may decide whether to view the video or not. There is also the option to view a video later so that you may continue to browse the News Feed and come back to the video once it has been downloaded. Both the features are extremely helpful for users on 2G speeds as it means not having to wait around for a video to load.
It is still unknown as to when Facebook Lite will be available for iOS and Window phone users. As of now, Shankar and his team want to get the Android experience right before moving on to the next step. It is still early in the day but the fact that 9 months on the app has reached a 100 million users means that the app does what it was intended to do – provide a social media experience at an affordable price.