Apply the blue and white filter: The new Instagram Lite being launched around the world Wednesday was developed in Israel.
Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, is launching a new version for Android of the massive photo-sharing social media app with improved speed, performance, and responsiveness. The app was developed by Facebook Tel Aviv, one of Facebook’s largest engineering hubs in the world, in joint collaboration with a New York-based team. It’s the same office that led the development of its popular Facebook Lite app.
Instagram Lite, like Facebook Lite, is a lightweight version of the app designed to provide people in rural and remote communities with a high-quality Instagram experience, while using minimal data and working well across all network conditions. The app is now rolling out in over 170 countries around the world, including Israel.
Billions of people around the world do not have access to the most up-to-date mobile devices, robust internet networks, or affordable data plans needed to effectively deliver Instagram’s data-rich videos and images quickly, the company said.
The new app is just two megabytes to download for Android, compared to 30MB for the full-size version, but retains most of the features that people using entry-level devices want. This required the engineers to offload much of the code from the app running on the phone into the cloud, similar to how Facebook Lite works.
The new app is currently available only for Android phones. Because iPhones tend to be more expensive, their use in developing countries is far less prevalent, so an iOS app isn’t in high demand in those markets, the spokesperson said. The company would not comment whether an Apple version would be made available in the future.
To keep performance reliable, the team removed much of the app’s data-rich animation, such as cube transitions or AR filters people can apply onto faces. However, they kept features that could deliver joy for less data, like GIFs and stickers. They also got rid of certain icons that do not make sense to global digital users. For instance, a trash can icon did not resonate as a symbol for getting rid of something, but an “X” rang clear, the company said.
A future version will include a dark mode, a feature that many users requested, the company added.
Instagram had previously launched a version of the Lite app in 2018, but closed it down last summer. The new version has much more advanced technology and better features, a company spokesperson explained.