Twitter launched a 1MB ‘lite’ version of its app, targetting users in emerging markets struggling with slow mobile networks, expensive data plans, or lack of storage on their devices.
The product is a ‘progressive web app’ which combines “the best of the web and the best of apps,” the company stated.
Twitter explained the web is becoming a platform for lightweight apps capable of being accessed on-demand, installed without friction, and incrementally updated. The app, which is available in 42 languages, is accessible to anyone with a smartphone or tablet with a browser, even for people without an App Store or Google Play account. Users won’t need an email account or credit card either.
The social media company described the offering as “a new mobile web experience” which minimises data usage, loads quickly on slower connections and is resilient on unreliable mobile networks. Twitter noted some 45 per cent of mobile connections are still on 2G.
“We also optimised it for speed, with up to 30 per cent faster launch times as well as quicker navigation throughout Twitter,” it said.
The app features a data saver mode in which users will see a preview of images and videos before choosing which to fully load. Twitter said the feature can reduce data usage by up to 70 per cent.
On Android phones, Twitter Lite includes notifications and alerts, offline access and the option for a home screen app.
In India, Twitter partnered with Vodafone to promote the app as a way to get live sports updates on the Indian Premier League, a cricket tournament. Twitter traditionally accounted for a low proportion of India’s overall social network users, which could explain why it is initially focusing on the market.
Twitter is not the first social media platform to launch a ‘lite’ offering.
Facebook launched a pared down version of its core app in June 2015, which hit 200 million users earlier in 2017. The company also introduced a slimline variety of its Messenger service.
Microsoft took the same approach for Skype in February 2017. However, unlike Twitter. Microsoft and Facebook’s variants are not browser based.