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Facebook Lite reaches 200m users

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Facebook Lite is available on Android smartphones.
Facebook Lite is available on Android smartphones.

The faster, more data-conservative version of the Facebook mobile app, Facebook Lite, now has over 200 million monthly active users.

The app is only 252Kb in size and was designed for 2G networks and areas with limited network connectivity.

"We built a light version of Facebook for people with low bandwidth Internet. Now 200 million people use it to connect around the world. I loved hearing this news -- what a great start to the day," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page this morning.

Last March, the app reached 100 million users, which made it the fastest-growing app created by Facebook, reaching the milestone in under nine months.

Facebook Lite is a stripped-down app geared specifically for low-end Android devices and targets emerging markets.

The app supports 56 languages and is most popular in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the Philippines. The company says it will expand its presence to South Korea, Italy and Israel. The app is already available in SA.

App users can message friends, have group conversations, and share updates and photos. The app also includes push notifications and camera integration.

Gautam Roy, a Facebook software engineer, said at the time of Facebook Lite's launch in June 2015 that the team had three goals in mind when designing the app:

1. Stay below the 1MB Android application package (APK) size limit.

2. Design client-server interaction to minimise data usage and work well on 2G networks.

3. Build an app that works on Android Gingerbread and on a 2009 year class device.

"Downloading a typical app with 20MB APK can take more than 30 minutes on a 2G network, and the download is likely to fail before completion, due to the flaky nature of the network," said Roy.

"Restricting our APK size makes it easier for people to download it. This also means people have to use less data to upgrade the app."

A full technical explanation on how the team achieved these goals can be found here.

Last week, during the company's quarterly results call, it was revealed the main Facebook app now has nearly two billion people using it monthly, on mobile and desktop.

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