Facebook is relaunching Instagram Lite today, a lean version of the image sharing app designed for users in emerging markets. Developed by the Facebook team in Tel Aviv, birthplace of Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, the app’s package size is only 2MB. The team said that, as with other launches, the focus is on users whose smartphones lack storage capacity, power to processing and reliable data. In order to achieve this size, the app focuses on images, video, and messaging, ditching other features and frills that fade into the background on the full version of the app.
Instagram Lite still has the main feed, as well as Stories – the ephemeral messaging function crib Snapchat – but not IG Live or Shopping. Engineering director Gal Zellermayer said that in addition to live filters and other AR effects that wouldn’t work on low-power devices, animations have been reduced. He cited the example of the cube animation seen when sliding between stories of different users, a very processor-intensive and data-intensive transition that didn’t perform well on older devices, which has been removed. Zellermayer added that a lot of the extra compression work is handled on the server side to ease the burden on the device itself.
Michelle Lourie, Product Manager, explained that there were a number of additional user interface changes to better suit “new digital users”. This included dropping a trash can to represent a delete icon, in favor of an X, which the testers found more logical. Additionally, Lourie said that GIFs and stickers are still part of the app because, unlike AR filters, they are space-saving while still being fun. Lourie added that the team is currently working on dark mode, a feature users have been asking for long before the app’s release.
The first version of Instagram Lite was little more than a wrapper around a web application. Facebook stop this version in May 2020, and said at the time that he was working on a new version with better support on the device. This new edition has already been tested in several territories, but is now deployed on Google Play in 170 countries around the world.