Facebook Testing Messenger Lite App Targeted at Low Bandwidth Markets


In January 2015, Facebook unveiled a stripped down version of its Android application called Facebook Lite. The application was developed with the aim of allowing users in countries with low internet connectivity to access Facebook. It was also aimed at users with low storage capacity devices as the app took less than 1 MB of storage space unlike the official Facebook application that gobbles 25 MB.

As part of Facebook’s broad mission to promote access of its services across the globe, Facebook is now testing a stripped version of its Messenger App called Messenger Lite. The App is available in five select countries across the world including Kenya starting today. Once completed, the app will roll-out to users across the world, which will be a big boon in the developing world. Speaking to Techweez, Facebook’s VP of product management for Messenger Stan Chudnovsky said that the app offers core features of messenger for markets with slower internet speed and a prevalence of older Android smartphones.

The Messenger Lite has been optimized for older versions of android devices, little memory phones and low bandwidth markets without compromising on the user’s experience. Messenger Lite uses less than 10 MB of the device’s storage and is easily accessible over 2G networks. According to Stan, the initial build of the app will not include popular messenger capabilities such as the ability to make calls, video chat or even create groups. These features will however roll-out in subsequent versions of Messenger Lite.

Facebook has been looking towards making Messenger and WhatsApp tools for small businesses across the world and we sought to understand how Messenger Lite will serve small business owners in developing markets. According to Stan, later versions of the Messenger Lite App which will include enhanced capabilities only available on Messenger which businesses can use to serve their customers better. The current version allows users to share images, gifs, stickers and basically chat with other users.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to the app on the play store.