Facebook claims to have dramatically increased the efficiency of its Android app, as it looks to deliver on one of the major goals of its Internet.org initiative aimed at bringing connectivity to the five billion people around the world currently without access to the internet.
Together with partners, Facebook is looking to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and reduce the cost of delivering data. This includes investment in tools to reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet services.
In a post on the Facebook engineering blog, the company’s Alex Sourov said the social network giant wants its mobile app to work for all people, no matter what region, condition of network or mobile device they are using.
Following a visit to Africa to examine mobile performance in emerging markets, the Android app development team worked to improve the Facebook experience on Android in terms of performance, data efficiency, network and size of app.
Work around data efficiency resulted in a 50 per cent reduction in data use compared to a year previously, said the firm.
Part of this work saw the use of a new image compression format called WebP which allowed for data savings of 25 to 35 per cent compared to transmitting images with JPG and 80 per cent compared with PNG. Image resolution was also changed so that it would adjust to the size and quality of screen.
With mobile devices in Africa likely to have less memory space for storing downloaded apps, Facebook said it has reduced the size of its Android app by 65 per cent since the beginning of 2014.
Improvements to the efficiency and reliability of the networking stack were also made, leading to a 90 per cent year-on-year drop in reports of slow or failed image loads.
Finally, Facebook said start times for the Android version of the app have been reduced by 50 per cent. Work included speeding up the loading time for the News Feed by fetching cached content earlier in the start-up process on poor quality networks.
Earlier this month Facebook boosted its efforts to reduce the cost of mobile internet access by agreeing to acquire Pryte, a Finnish company giving mobile users without data plans the ability to buy data on a per app basis.