Instagram Lite

By: Nick Gambino

Facebook just started rolling out the Instagram Lite app to 170 countries. You might remember there was an earlier version of this minimal social media app that launched in 2018. Facebook removed it from the Play Store, but now it’s back and retooled.

The Lite app is a trend amongst social media apps with Facebook and TikTok launching their own. The smaller-sized app allows greater access to the platform for people who have older phones without the ability to hold a lot of storage. More specifically, it targets those in developing countries.

“No matter where they are, people want to be entertained and inspired by those that they love,” Michelle Lourie, a product manager at Facebook said in a blog post. “It’s difficult to do that on Instagram with an entry-level phone that has storage constraints.”

Instagram Lite comes in at an impressively small 2MB. Compared to the regular Instagram app’s 30MB, it’s tiny. In order to achieve that small size, they had to give up some luxuries that were taking up space. This also results in less data being used, an additional concern with those who might not be able to afford it.

The Lite app is a lot less graphics heavy. They’ve done away with any advertisements so as to not take up precious space. Similarly, they’ve removed AR filters, dark mode, the Shopping tab and the rumored end-to-end encryption. Apparently, they are working on bringing dark mode to the pared-down app, which should show up in an update soon.

Those using Instagram Lite will still be able to view Reels (Instagram’s answer to TikTok), but they won’t be able to make their own. Though they’ve figured out how to let users make and post videos. The decision to keep the ability to at least view Reels was based on engagement numbers with the feature in India. They didn’t want to make the app boring which is also why they’ve included GIFs and stickers for Lite users.

There’s no mention of an iOS version of the app, so we can assume there’s no plan to release one anytime soon. For now, Android users in 170 countries can download Instagram Lite in the Play Store. Facebook plans to launch the size-conscious app globally in the near future.