Facebook’s new Android app goes light on the data

Facebook is serious about spreading its service to people in countries without fast cellular networks or cutting-edge smartphones. Its new Android app, Facebook Lite, which isn’t available in the United States or Europe, is targeted at people with poor internet service or who are limited to 2G networks.

Facebook Lite clocks in at a 252KB download — about one hundredth the size of Facebook’s main Android app, which is around 25MB depending on your device. The app is based on the software that Facebook on feature phones uses, but it sports Android-specific features like push notifications and camera uploads. Unlike Facebook’s main app, Facebook Lite also includes Facebook Messenger.

facebook-lite

This isn’t the first version of Facebook targeted at developing countries — Facebook previously used the “Facebook Lite” moniker in 2009 for a similarly stripped-down version of its website found on the web at lite.facebook.com. Facebook shut that site down in 2010.

In addition to lightweight versions of Facebook for Android, Facebook continues to adapt its service to feature phones without browsers as part of the Facebook Zero project. As part of the Facebook-led Internet.org program, Facebook and Facebook Messenger don’t count against users’ data caps in regions of Zambia. Plus, Facebook owns WhatsApp, which is the most popular messaging service in many developing nations.

Facebook Lite is only available in eight countries to start. People in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe with certain Android devices can download it from Google Play now.

Facebook’s director of global connectivity Chris Weasler spoke at Gigaom’s Structure Connect conference in 2014, telling a story about how Facebook employees reworked the Facebook app to make it 50 percent lighter on data usage after finding out they could barely use the service on Nigerian networks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okVsvpP63QM

Facebook Messenger now available for Windows Phone

More than two years after making its debut on Android(s goog) and iOS(s aapl), the Facebook(s fb) Messenger app is now available for Windows(s msft) Phone. Although Windows Phone already has built-in support for Facebook messaging, the dedicated app adds features like group chat, location sharing, picture messaging and stickers. It’s still missing some features from its iOS and Android counterparts, though, like voice messaging. Still, it’s another positive step toward closing the app gap between Windows Phone and the competition.

Telefonica partners with Line for Firefox OS push

Customers buying Telefonica Firefox OS handsets in Spain, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico will get exclusive access to the platform’s Line app, a competitor to the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Free calling moves from Messenger to main Facebook iOS app

Facebook released an update on Friday that will allow users to place calls through the app as long as both parties have the most recently updated version. The function previously existed in the Messenger app, but will now be available to everyone.

Now that it has voice messaging, Facebook un-friends (aka blocks) Voxer

Facebook is banning Voxer and disallowing it access to its platform. The question is – will this ban extend to other communication apps or is Facebook cherry picking and targeting individual companies. And the bigger question: is it time for the anti-trust people to intervene?

Facebook opens up Messenger app to non-Facebook users

Facebook will soon allow anyone to sign up for its Facebook Messenger App with just a name and a phone number instead of requiring users to have a Facebook account. The roll out begins on Android in select countries before going international and iOS soon.