Social network for the public
Facebook Lite is the social network’s latest standalone app to hit the market, and this time it’s a cut down version of the native mobile app aimed at devices with poor network connections.
With smartphone usage in emerging markets skyrocketing, but people in these countries often have a faulty internet connection and low-end devices, the release of Facebook Lite seems justified.
Even though the app is a lot smaller in size than the normal Android sister (and therefore doesn’t cause problems for devices with a small amount of memory) it doesn’t feel light on features. You can comment and like your friends’ posts; post geotagged status with photo; send messages to individuals or groups (don’t be prompted to switch to Messenger); looking for you; and post to and set up groups, events and pages. There’s no in-app browser (so all the links take you outside of the app), nor support for video and audio (no surprise the app is for a poor internet connection).
In terms of looks, it looks quite similar to the main Android app from a few years ago or a slightly older version of the mobile website. Facebook Lite maintains the layout of the full mobile app, with the news feed’s side scrolling menu, friend requests, messages, notifications, and settings remaining at the top.
News feed data quickly loads in Facebook Lite, even when STILL stories are not loaded chronologically. However, even when using WiFi to post photos and status updates on Nexus 5 there is some delay, which is not good for people who only have 2G connection on devices at the low end of the market . Apps often use words instead of icons for common tasks, which sometimes results in the text disappearing from the top or next to the page. You will also really notice a difference in the layout when viewing your friends’ profiles or messages because there are no images.
Saying that, the large buttons at the top of each individual menu say things like ‘new message’ simplifying interactions and making Facebook Lite really easy to navigate for first-time users.
Several ways to go
While Facebook Lite retains many of the features of the Android app that made it so popular, the delay in doing things like uploading photos (over WiFi, not 3G) was surprising. Compared to the original mobile app, it’s actually slower. So while the initial user response since the release has been good, Facebook still has some work to do if it wants to so see success with this standalone app.