Facebook has announced the “rebirth” of Instagram Lite. The teardown version of the main app which was withdrawn by Facebook in May 2020, has now been launched in more than 170 countries.
Instagram Lite was introduced to cater to the needs of users in countries and regions where internet penetration and services are either expensive or erratic. The app never really hit the ground running as it lacked some of the advanced features of the main app.
The new Instagram Lite is about 2MB in size, and quite naturally does not have similar features as the main version. The goal is to create an app to serve the needs of people in the rural areas. People in regions and areas with low internet patronage. While Instagram Lite does not boasts of some of the major features of the main app, it does have enough in its tank to serve those in the rural areas.
“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,” said Tzach Hadar, Director of Product Management at Facebook Tel Aviv, one of the largest strategic engineering hubs for Facebook globally. “We wanted the Instagram experience to remain fast, high-quality, and reliable, irrespective of the device, platform, and network people are on,” in a blog announcement.
For the team responsible for designing Instagram Lite, it was a choice between retaining certain features and removing some to get the near-perfect app. Features such as cube transitions and AR filters that can be applied to faces were removed. However, features such as the ones that could deliver “joy with less data, like GIFs and stickers” were retained. Certain icons that do not make much sense values to “new digital users” were also removed.
The teams also sampled the opinions of users; and the feedback they received helped in shaping the final pieces of the app. Facebook said multiple people requested for the very popular “dark mode” option, which was added. “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 Michelle Lourie a leading member of the team.
Rumors of a revival of Instagram Lite started hitting a couple of tech blog sites no sooner had it been taken off the various stores last year. A Facebook spokesperson later confirmed to Android Police that Instagram Lite was being tested at the time.