Facebook Inc. has changed the name of its Internet.org mobile app and the program's mobile site, to better distinguish the larger effort of bringing connectivity to the five billion people around the world without access to the Web.
The app and the mobile site will now be called "Free Basics," the Internet giant said in an update on the Internet.org website Thursday. Those who have installed the app on their phones will be able to continue using it, and the Web version of Internet.org will redirect to freebasics.com. Users will now also get a menu to select from available services, or alternatively, they can search for a service by name or description.
Facebook tied up with Reliance Communications, India's fourth-biggest wireless provider, to launch the app in the country earlier this year. For now the Internet.org app -- now renamed Free Basics -- or its Web version work only on handsets that have SIM cards from Reliance Communications, while a senior Facebook executive recently said the social networking giant was open to partnering with other wireless providers.
On Thursday, Facebook also said that developers could now build services that can be added to Internet.org, and the company posted guidelines for developers to follow. A platform, which the company announced for developers for the purpose in May this year, is now open, the company said in Thursday's update.
When the Internet.org app was first launched in India, Reliance Communications' subscribers got access to some sites providing news, job searches and health information for women. Today the program offers more than 60 services and is available in 19 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America -- regions that are home to most of the world's poor and those cut off from the Internet.
Last year, Facebook and consulting firm McKinsey and Co. estimated in a study that about 5 billion people on the planet had no access to the Internet.