Facebook is moving forward on its efforts to make emerging markets more open to its services and the company has redeveloped and relaunched its Android app that uses 50 percent less data than its traditional app in developed countries. The goal is to deliver new means for emerging markets, where bandwidth remains expensive, to access Facebook on the go from their smartphone or mobile devices.
With over one billion users globally, the social network is looking to make a run at the remaining five billion people who are not yet connected to the network and with most of those potential users living in emerging markets where smartphone have yet to fully take hold, lowering the data used by users could push the company forward into new arenas and new markets.
To get the new app off the ground, the company had a networking team sent to Africa in order to understand how the IT world there functions in order to innovate and change the app in order to make it more accessible to a wider audience and not just those with the financial ability to pay higher fees and use more data.
Facebook engineering manager Alex Sourov wrote in a blog post that the social network had been looking into this for some time and is currently ready to make it a reality.
"We purchased several different Android handsets to test the latest version of the Facebook app -- and the testing process proved to be difficult," he wrote. "The combination of an intermittent, low-bandwidth network connection and a lack of memory space on the devices resulted in slow load times and constant crashes. We even burned through our monthly data plans in 40 minutes."
The overall capacity of the new app is 65 percent smaller and with it using half of the average data usually required to function the Android app, Facebook believes that this will help users in interacting more regularly with their friends in sending messages and especially in photo sharing, which is largely the top use of Facebook.
"Interacting with photos is an important part of the Facebook experience, but it takes a sizable amount of data to download them," Sourov wrote. "If we could optimize the download size, we could improve data savings and perceived app performance."
It is unclear how quickly this new app will make its way into emerging markets, but the overall belief is that it will help to get more and more users who had been unable to access Facebook more equipped to do so going forward.