Facebook said on Wednesday it was launching a “lite” version of Instagram in 170 countries that will enable people with poor internet to access the photo and video sharing social networking service.
Instagram Lite will be available for Android-based phones and require less bandwidth than the traditional version.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
The app itself requires just 2 megabytes (MB) -- versus 30 MB for Instagram -- and runs even on slower 2G networks, allowing customers in parts of India, Africa, Asia and Latin America with older internet infrastructure to access the service.
“These are the markets where there is the greatest need,” said Tzach Hadar, director of product management at Facebook in Tel Aviv, where the app was largely developed.
“It uses a lot less data so if you have a small data package you are not going to run out when you use the service. But the aim is for us to give the same breadth of experience you get on Instagram,” he told Reuters.
Hadar, who heads Facebook’s R&D in Israel, said 170 countries did not represent a full global launch, but “it’s a step on the way.”
He noted that other than TV and reels -- for creating and sharing short video clips -- Instagram Lite retained most key features of Instagram.
A lite version of Facebook itself has been available globally for five years.
In addition to the lite versions, Facebook in Tel Aviv also developed the Express WiFi service to bring internet access to some 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Hadar said his team was now working on a digital wallet for Facebook. “You have close to 2 billion people that have no access or limited access to banks and financial services and there are tens of billions of dollars being spent just for fees for migrants wanting to send money back to their families,” he said.
Another initiative, he said, was Facebook Shops for small businesses to sell products online.
Facebook’s R&D center in Tel Aviv opened in 2013 after it bought Israeli mobile app-maker Onavo for an estimated $150-$200 million.
Instagram to integrate reels into Facebook social networkInstagram said it will give a small number of creators in India the option to share their short video clips on Facebook Inc.’s main social network as ... Digital
Russia threatens Facebook with fine for blocking certain media outletsRussia accused Facebook on Monday of violating citizens’ rights by blocking some media outlets’ content in the latest standoff between a government ... World News
Photojournalists accuse Facebook of censorship in Greek hunger strike coveragePhotojournalists in Greece on Tuesday accused Facebook of censorship after pictures of a protest in support of an imprisoned far-left hitman on hunger ... World News
India unveils tougher social media rules to tighten control over Facebook, TwitterIndia announced new rules on Thursday to regulate big social media firms, such as Facebook and Twitter, the latest effort by Prime Minister Narendra ... Digital
Australia’s antitrust chief claims victory after Facebook, Google news content rowThe architect of Australia’s laws forcing Google and Facebook to pay media companies for content claimed victory on Wednesday, though critics said ... Technology
Facebook and the battle for “neighboring rights”Over thousands of years throughout humanity’s known history, people have been fascinated with the concept of solitude, and to experience that they ... In Translation
White House working with Facebook and Twitter to tackle anti-vaxxersThe White House has been reaching out to social media companies including Facebook , Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s Google about clamping down on COVID ... Coronavirus
Facebook takes down pages of Myanmar’s state-run TV channelFacebook took down the pages of Myanmar’s state-run television on Monday, a day after the channel had warned anti-coup protesters against taking ... World News