Facebook is relaunching Instagram Lite, a lightweight version of the eponymous social media app that’s aimed at anyone with a slow internet connection or limited space on their phone. To be clear, Instagram Lite isn’t a new app. It was previously tested in select parts of the world before being pulled in March 2020 with the promise of a rerelease someday. Today is that day.
Tzach Hadar, director of product management at Facebook Tel Aviv said: “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.”
As implied, this app focuses on refining the basics of the Instagram experience, compacting and shrinking it to a mere 2MB download. Once installed, you’ll find everything you need. Viewing and uploading will work as normal, as will messaging and stories — even video messaging. Features that don’t make sense for everyone like augmented reality (AR) filters and extraneous animations are gone, but fun ones like stickers and GIFs will remain. The company also made slight changes to icons, removing ones tied to obsolete physical metaphors, For example, the trashcan icon has been replaced by a simpler “X” that makes more sense for digital natives.
Facebook made this app available in 170 countries today via the Google Play Store. It’s available to all kinds of devices at launch (though aimed at cheaper ones) and will only become globally accessible later in the year.
Facebook has worked on other Lite apps, including Facebook and a Messenger Lite in the past, but its not the only one to drive this focus on slimmed-down apps. Google has a whole suite of them, from Google Go to Google Gallery Go to YouTube Go. Even Tinder and Spotify have lite versions of their respective apps.
There’s something to be said for having the most feature-rich app around, hence the appeal of Facebook’s more traditional apps in the first place. However, companies that rely on having more users are served by being more accessible. Facebook may highlight altruistic reasons for making smaller apps and connecting people, but a social media service’s usefulness is inherently tied to its reach, and lite apps only serve to increase both attributes.