Facebook’s new Lite app has been designed to deliver a usable mobile experience to devices even when data coverage is weak, patchy or slow, but it also indirectly offers another feature – it brings the Messenger experience back under the same roof as the social experience.
Facebook has made plays in the past to take over your smartphone with its own suite of apps. Whilst the Facebook Camera application was a short-lived experiment before the company proceeded to buy Instagram instead, it pushed user’s hands last year when it separated out its main Facebook app and the messaging component into the standalone Facebook Messenger.
Whilst time has been healing, the need to jump between two separate applications still ceases to make sense in our eyes and so the arrival of yet another Facebook app is a blessing in disguise.
Facebook Lite is currently being trialled in specific markets where mobile coverage and reliability are less than stellar, with a design that accommodates minimal consumption; meaning it should be able to operate without too much trouble over a humble 2G mobile data connection.
The application itself, which was launched with little to no fanfare on Facebook’s part last week, weighs in at under 1MB in size. By comparison, to download the conventional Facebook and Messenger applications on an unlocked Nexus 5 together clocks in at a snip under a whopping 47MB. This isn't the first time Facebook's used the Lite name and model before either. It tried a slimmed down web experience back in 2010 and this appears to be a return of sorts.
Facebook Lite is a notably stripped down experience, it has to be to achieve that tiny download size, but that also means you lose transitions moving from pane to pane, videos don’t automatically play and animated stickers in Messenger remain static. I don’t know about you, but those don’t sound like shortcomings of any major significance when you consider the improved convenience of having a single app for all things Facebook again, not to mention the space saved on your device.
Snaptu - a company acquired by Facebook back in 2011 built its name on offering a suite of super lightweight apps, including Facebook, which were said to be able to run on 80 per cent of internet-capable mobile phones (not just smartphones). It appears that this is the latest creation from the former Snaptu team and the distilled Facebook experience really works.
Presently it’s only available to download from the Google Play Store in markets such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe, but you can nab yourself the .APK (hosted by Android Authority) here (mirror) or at the source link below to test it out for yourselves. We've shedded the full fat Facebook from our phones and opted for this new 'Lite-r' option. Will you?