Social media giant Facebook is launching a “lite” version of Instagram in 170 countries to enable people with a poor internet connection to access the photo and video-sharing social networking service.
The Instagram Lite version will only require 2 megabytes (MB) and it runs even on slower 2G networks, providing customers in parts of India, Africa, Asia and Latin America with older internet infrastructure to access the platform without any interruptions.
“These are the markets where there is the greatest need. It uses a lot less data so if you have a small data package you are not going to run out when you use the service. But the aim is for us to give the same breadth of experience you get on Instagram,” said Tzach Hadar, director of product management at Facebook in Tel Aviv, where the app was largely developed.
Mr. Hadar, who heads Facebook’s R&D in Israel, further added that 170 countries did not represent a full global launch, but it’s a step on the way. A lite version of Facebook itself has been available globally for five years.
The lite version will be available for Android-based phones and require less bandwidth than the traditional version. Other than IGTV and reels, used for creating and sharing short video clips, Instagram Lite has retained most key features of Instagram.
In addition to the lite versions, Facebook in Tel Aviv has developed the Express Wi-Fi service to bring internet access to some 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America and currently it is also working on Facebook Shops to help small businesses to sell products online.
Speaking about the development of a digital wallet for Facebook, Mr. Hadar stated that “You have close to 2 billion people that have no access or limited access to banks and financial services and there are tens of billions of dollars being spent just for fees for migrants wanting to send money back to their families.”
Facebook’s R&D center in Tel Aviv started its operations in 2013 after it bought Israeli mobile app-maker Onavo for an estimated $150-$200 million.