Growth for Facebook is coming from the developing world, and so the social network today made another key move to cater better to consumers in those countries. After nearly three years in the planning, Facebook is taking the plunge today and officially launching Instagram Lite, a less data- and storage-intensive Android-only version of its popular photo and video app. It will take up just 2MB on a phone, and it is going live in 170 countries, with a focus on emerging markets, today.
Instagram Lite is launching with all the basic bells and whistles around editing, sharing and viewing photos and videos, as well as the ability to add stickers, create and view Stories, IGTV and the Explore discovery and recommendation algorithms. And given the launch across 170 countries, it’s coming with specific language support to be usable in those markets.
But to whittle down the experience from the 30MB that full-fat Instagram takes up on iOS and Android devices (and countless MB of mobile data usage), it’s launching without some things, too.
Namely, the developers have left out many graphics; they haven’t included advertising; and it’s missing some key features like the ability to make TikTok-ish Reels (you can still view them), dark mode, Shopping and end-to-end encryption. (Notably, encryption was reportedly being worked on for the main app in 2019, but it has yet to launch). Nor are there iOS or feature phone versions of the app in the works.
Facebook said that some of that list — such as dark mode and (of course) adverts — will be added in future updates.
Instagram Lite has been teased out in different forms by Facebook since 2018, and it’s hitting what has proven to be a receptive market for the social media giant. Tzach Hadar, Tel Aviv-based director of product management for all of Facebook’s Lite apps — which also include versions of Facebook and Messenger, also built in Tel Aviv — said this week that Facebook Lite now has more than 200 million monthly active users.
That’s just a fraction of the billions that use Facebook itself, but represents a key way of targeting those newer to Facebook or those who might not otherwise be using the app because of financial or bandwidth constraints.
But although Instagram is wildly popular and would have been an obvious candidate for the Lite treatment years ago, and Instagram Lite was one of the most requested items from users in developing markets, it has proven to be a trickier beast.
That’s not just because the app focuses on images and videos, which by their nature use up more bandwidth and data; but because over the years Instagram has become increasingly laden with features: those aimed at enhancing the user experience; those aimed at competing better with other apps (hello, Stories and Reels); and those to extend monetization opportunities for Facebook.
“Instagram offered another kind of unique challenge for us to deliver under the same constraints the same experience,” said Nick Brown, a product manager based out of New York (the app was co-developed across Facebook’s Tel Aviv and NYC offices and — presumably, given the year we’ve had — across many Facebook employees’ homes). “The philosophy is really that we want to bring all of Instagram to these users.
In other news – Aaron Moloisi finally opens up on the man behind his back in a viral photo who is suspected to be Mohale
After a 2018 picture of television star Aaron Moloisi and a mystery lover in the background, whom many thoughts was Somizi’s Mohale surfaced, the Moja Love presenter has been accused of cheating with Mr Motaung-Mhlongo.
Yesterday, Aaron decided to finally put the rumour to rest and addressed the matter through an official statement. Learn more