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Facebook launches Instagram Lite for improved experience on budget phones


Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic everyone has become strongly dependent on their smartphone and internet connection. While many of us are used to upgrading their phone regularly (even when we might not need to), those in developing countries aren’t as fortunate.

As you may know, smartphone innovation is mainly driven by hardware, which gets assembled in places like India, Vietnam, Taiwan and more. China is still the main smartphone-making hub, but this is slowly changing, with manufacturers like Samsung and Apple moving production away to other Asian countries mostly for economic reasons.

While hardware is an asset, which involves a number of stakeholders, software is much easier to distribute. it can reach many more people, much quicker. That’s exactly what Facebook’s team is trying to achieve with the introduction of Instagram Lite.

In a nutshell, this is a less demanding version of the Instagram app, which happens to cut only a few corners. Why? Well… not every country boasts yearly deals on the latest smartphones with unlimited data plans. Moreover, Apple simply isn’t a brand that fits everyone’s economic status. Brands like Xiaomi, VIvo and Oppo dominate markets like India, where the best-selling smartphones are budget models. They often offer less processing power, less storage and lower-tier connectivity hardware, which makes for limited performance under heavier load.

You might not realize how demanding an app like Instagram or Facebook is, if you are using a high-end device (even if it’s from 2019). Running multiple apps, using navigation, taking photos etc., can quickly cause a budget phone to start acting up, so the Instagram Lite app will require only 2MB to download on Android (versus nearly 30MB for Instagram). Important features for the user experience such as dark mode, GIFs and Reels (Facebook’s version of TikTok, which is banned in countries like India and Pakistan), are kept in-tact. Corners are cut where it matters least: animations, icons, transitions are stripped-back and simple.

This isn’t Facebook’s first attempt at such an app – Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite are great alternatives to the main versions of their full-sized brothers (or sisters!?). Speaking of family members, the main goal of the team behind this ‘lite’ idea is simple: help families and friends stay connected, despite the slower internet speeds and modest devices.

Apps aren’t the full story. Google has made similar efforts to equip lower-end devices with Android Go, a much less-demanding version of Android, which is made to run apps like Instagram Lite, which is now rolling out in more than 170 countries worldwide, and will soon be available virtually anywhere with the upcoming global version.

Tech can change the world, but the world can change tech too. It’s important to make phones and apps that can be used by anyone and anywhere!

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