Eighty percent of Indian mobile phone users have 2G connections, and most of them own Android phones. Now Facebook has made an app just for them.
Facebook Lite is a lighter version of the world's most popular social media app, made for areas where 2G speeds are still the norm. It is optimised for slower data connections.
“There are a large number of users, who are on 2G, and one of the feedbacks we have received is that the app does not load fast on some devices. This lighter version has been developed so that the app works well across all network conditions and on all types of phones,” said Product Manager at Facebook Lite Vijay Shankar.
India is Facebook's second-biggest market and growing rapidly. It has a user base of 125 million, out of which 13 million new users signed up in the last six months. 53 million Indians use Facebook on their mobile phones everyday.
Facebook Lite will have similar core functions as the full app, including news feed, status updates, messenger, and notifications. Users will be able to select the quality of images, which means high resolution pictures can be reduced to sizes that can run on 2G connections. But it will not support video, which requires higher bandwidth to run smoothly, nor will it have an in-built browser.
"In India, over 80 per cent of the users are on 2G network. We have worked on improving the apps performance even on spotty connections and across devices from entry-level devices to high-end ones," Shankar said.
The Lite version works with smartphones running Android 2.2 and up, and is just 252 KB in file size, much smaller than the default Facebook app of 27 MB. That makes Lite easier to load at lower speeds and on entry-level smartphones with lower memory.
Facebook Lite will be rolled out in other markets such as parts of Latin America and Africa where 2G still makes up most of the connections. Most of the developed economies have moved on to 4G LTE speeds, which allows high-definition videos to play without buffering.
(With agency inputs)