This past March, Facebook launched a new Facebook—a lighter, slimmer version of itself —for U.S. users. Facebook Lite, which has been available overseas since 2015, is an app intended for users who have older devices (you need to have a device that runs Android 2.3 or later; it’s not available for iOS) or live in less connected areas. According to Facebook, Lite is “quick to download and uses less storage space … uses less data … loads quickly … [uploads] photos faster.” It also “works on all networks — it is designed for 2G networks and areas with slow or unstable internet connections.”
And Facebook Lite isn’t just about performance; it also promises a simpler, cleaner experience. “Many of the classic features of Facebook are available on the app, such as sharing to a Timeline, liking photos, searching for people, and editing your profile and groups,” the Google Play description of Facebook Lite reads. It sounds a lot like what Facebook used to be, before profile-photo filters and Stories, before Facebook Watch and Fundraisers and Marketplace. Arguably, Facebook doesn’t need those things; social apps are all-encompassing everything machines that suck our data and our time with features unnecessary to their intrinsic purpose and value.
In a tech world of constant change, it can be hard to convince yourself that something simpler is better, but in this case it just might be. What if the thing that could save social apps from themselves—and user frustration—is a downgrade?
Facebook Lite is far from the only social app that’s created a simpler version of itself. Spotify is testing a lite version in Brazil, a country whose citizens consume massive amounts of mobile data and rely on social networking apps while it struggles to meet that demand due to telecoms infrastructure challenges. A few weeks ago, Instagram debuted Instagram Lite—also only for Android. “The Instagram Lite app is small, allowing you to save space on your phone and download it quickly,” the description in the Google Play store explains. While Instagram Lite does have a few more features than the Instagram of old (you can create disappearing stories), you still can’t share videos, and there’s no direct messaging or IGTV. And Messenger Lite (again, available for Android only), strips the app of features like sending money and GIFs and playing games.
WildFyre also has a “lite” app you can start using it here.