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Instagram rolls out its Lite App for rural and remote communities

2 Mins read

Instagram has today announced the roll-out of a lightweight version of its app that requires only 2 MB to download on Android — considerably less than the full-size version, which was closer to 30 MB — but retains the key features that people using entry-level devices want.

This new app for Android is designed to provide people living in rural and remote communities with a high-quality Instagram experience using minimal data. The app, which is rolling out in more than 170 countries, arrived not a moment too soon. 

“Our teams build these lightweight versions of our apps for people with low connectivity or limited data plans because our basic premise is to leave no one behind. “We wanted the Instagram experience to remain fast, high-quality, and reliable, irrespective of the device, platform, and network people are on.”

Tzach Hadar, Director of Product Management at Facebook Tel Aviv

To keep those features on the smaller app, the team took a page from Facebook Lite, another Tel Aviv creation that debuted a few years ago, by offloading into the cloud much of the code from the app running on the phone. 

The team then focused on what people valued most, namely video and messaging, which remote dwellers use more actively than their urban counterparts. Both posed a tightrope walk for engineers. While the team wanted to preserve the beauty and craft of Instagram’s design, they also had to remain mindful of how the app would perform in a setting with poor connectivity and slower networks. 

To keep performance reliable, the team removed much of the ornate, data-rich animation, such as cube transitions and the AR filters people can apply to faces. However, they kept features that could deliver joy with less data, like GIFs and stickers. They also got rid of certain icons that do not make sense to new digital users. For instance, a trash can icon did not resonate as a symbol for getting rid of something, but an “X” rang clear.

This new app for Android is designed to provide people living in rural and remote communities with a high-quality Instagram experience using minimal data.

Even after rolling out Instagram Lite during testing, the team discovered there were other features on people’s must-have list. For instance, multiple people requested a “dark mode” option, which replaces the bright white background with a black one and gray text. “For people who live in communal areas and close quarters, it’s really important to browse more privately and not bother those around them,” explains Lourie. 

And it’s that detailed attention to consumers’ needs that has already paid off. Shortly after the introduction of Instagram Lite, notes began pouring in from people around the world expressing gratitude that runs deeper than the dark mode, trash can icons, and GIFs. “I am from Venezuela, and some will understand that it is not easy to have a new smartphone,” wrote one person. “I have a Samsung [Galaxy S] Duos with several old apps, but thanks to this application I can have a window to a better world.”

Starting today, people in more than 170 countries will be able to download Instagram Lite in the Google Play Store to have a high-quality Instagram experience, no matter what network or device they’re on. We will be rolling out the app globally soon. 

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