Facebook on Thursday officially launched a stripped-down version of its Android app, tailored to suit users in developing markets who may have limited data or poor network coverage. The app, dubbed Facebook Lite, is being launched in Asia initially and will subsequently roll out in Africa, Latin America and Europe.
The app is designed to work in areas where data is at a premium, either because of costly data plans common in some emerging markets, or because of poor network connectivity. Facebook has made the app just 1MB of storage -- about 1 percent that of the social network's regular app.
Users of the stripped-down offering will be able to browse their newsfeed, view pictures, post status updates and receive push notifications. Data-intensive functions, such as video and Nearby Friends, however, will not be supported, TechCrunch reported.
Facebook has been testing the app since January. Vijay Shankar, the app's project manager, told Wired that people responded to the offering immediately. “App reviews suggest people want it in their countries,” he says, referencing the Google Play app store, where Facebook Lite has more than four stars and 50,000 reviews.
The launch of the stripped-down app is part of Facebook's efforts to capture the billions of users in developing countries who lack the infrastructure necessary to support data-hungry phone apps, or where inexpensive, low-spec cell phones are more common.
The new app is not part of Facebook's Internet.org initiative, which aims to extend online access to people in developing countries who do not have it, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company has also teased plans to use drone aircraft to bring Internet access to remote communities.