Facebook Lite is the social network's latest standalone app to make it to market, and this time it's a cut down version of the native mobile app aimed at devices with poor network connections.
Surprisingly feature rich
With smartphone adoption in emerging markets soaring, but people in these countries often having patchy internet connections and low-end devices, the release of Facebook Lite seem to make sense.
Even though the app is a lot smaller in size than its regular Android sister (and so doesn't cause issues for devices with a small amount of memory) it doesn't feel light on features. You can comment and like friends' posts; post a geo-tagged status accompanied by photos; send messages to individuals or groups (without being prompted to switch to Messenger); find friends; and post to and set up groups, events, and pages. There isn't an in-app browser (so all links take you outside the app), nor is there support for video and audio (unsurprising given the app is for poor internet connections).
In terms of appearance, it looks pretty 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 side-scrolling menu of the newsfeed, friend requests, messages, notifications, and settings remaining at the top.
Newsfeed data is quick to load in Facebook Lite, even if stories STILL aren't loaded chronologically. However, even when using WiFi to post photos and status updates on a Nexus 5 there is some delay, which doesn't bode well for people who may only have 2G connections on devices at the lower end of the market. The app often uses words instead of symbols for common actions, which sometimes results in text disappearing off the top or the side of the page. You will also really notice the difference in layout when viewing your friends' profile or messages because there are no images.
Saying that, the big buttons at the top of each individual menu saying things like 'new message' simplify interactions and make Facebook Lite really easy to navigate for first time users.
Some way to go
While Facebook Lite retains many of the features of the Android app that made it so popular, the lag when doing things like uploading photos (over WiFi, not 3G) was surprising. Compared to the original mobile app, it was actually slower. So, while initial user reaction since its release has been good, Facebook still has some work to do if it wants so see success with this standalone app.