For some of us, it is hard to imagine what life was like before Instagram and other social media. With Instagram, connections are made at the tap of a button, and we couldn’t be more grateful. It’s lovely to see people share their life experiences with us. Plus, there is so much we can learn on Instagram about people, their cultures and experiences and it has made the world become a village.
Those of us who have lived to see the evolution of Instagram would probably have a lot to write about. Instagram, which started back in October 2010, has grown into a beautiful platform for sharing that we appreciate. The features on Instagram are a great way to tap into people’s creative side. It’s beautiful to watch!
Now, Instagram Lite, a new, lightweight version of the Instagram app for Android that uses less data has been launched. Instagram Lite works well across all network conditions making it fast to install and quick to load. It is also available in three East African languages – Amharic, Swahili, and Oromo. Facebook will build more languages with time. The app is available in 170 regions around the world.
Instagram Lite was re-launched earlier in 2021, to enable users in emerging markets to enjoy features of the Instagram app in a lighter version that is fast, small, reliable, responsive, and works well on 2G networks which means that people in areas with limited internet can share their stories with the world. Interesting to note, 2021 was not the first time users heard of Instagram Lite. It was first introduced in 2018.
Facebook has been continuously building on this launch by adding local languages to Instagram Lite to make it easier for users to express themselves and connect with friends in the languages that they are most comfortable with. This expansion of the available languages will undoubtedly attract a wider audience and as a result, give more people opportunities to benefit from Instagram.
In Africa, it is estimated that 2,000 languages are spoken. This means that in order for as many people to reap the benefits of Instagram, it makes sense to include more languages to make it more inclusive.
Facebook Communications Manager for Eastern Africa, Janet Kemboi said that “We want to make our products accessible to people in languages that they use daily to communicate with their communities. By increasing the number of localized languages, we are unlocking ways for more people to engage with our products in a manner that they easily understand.”
Facebook has strived to ensure that all its products are built to meet the needs of its users in Sub-Saharan Africa. The localization of Instagram Lite is to also ensure that people will limited internet or 2G phones can easily and conveniently use the app. This promotes inclusion as with the various languages which are being added over time, also promotes cultural diversity.
“Our teams build these lightweight versions of our apps for people with low connectivity or limited data plans. This is because our basic premise is to leave no one behind,” says Tzach Hadar, Director of Product Management at Facebook Tel Aviv, “We want the Instagram experience to remain fast, high-quality, and reliable. All irrespective of the device, platform, and network people are on.”
You may be wondering what other benefits are reaped from using Instagram Lite versus the regular Instagram? The full version of the Instagram app takes up 30 MB to 80 MB of space, excluding app data and cache, The Instagram Lite app only takes up 2 MB of space, excluding app data and cache. This means faster speeds and an overall enhanced user experience. With Instagram Lite, you get less buffering. Instagram Lite can work with slow internet speeds.
Commenting on the rationale for introducing the app to Sub-Saharan Africa, Engineering Manager for Instagram Lite, Peter Shin said, “Connectivity in the region can be unstable, slow and expensive, making it challenging for people to have a high-quality Instagram experience. Many people were already familiar with the concept of a Lite app after the successful roll-out of Facebook Lite some years ago. We started testing the new version of Instagram Lite when people across the continent started asking for a Lite app for Android. The feedback was very positive and we are excited to launch it across the continent today”.
A lot of us suffer from phone storage issues, and if you happen to be among this demographic, then you are also likely to benefit from Instagram Lite. Inspired by Facebook Lite, the Instagram Lite app will offload most of the code that’s running the app to the cloud. There is a lot to gain from Instagram Lite. All features on the regular app are available on it. This includes stories, reels, feed, and Direct Messages (DM).
The only thing that you probably miss out on with Instagram Lite is the ability to watch live videos, and the ability to share songs on your stories. At the moment, Instagram Lite is only available for Android users. It’s also unavailable in dark mode, which, to be honest, is a small price to pay.
Instagram Lite is a perfect app that takes little space on your phone. You can connect with more people who speak your language since it is now available in Amharic, Kiswahili, and Oromo. We continue to anticipate the expansion of Instagram Lite to many other languages, and with time, a lot more people will be able to access Instagram Lite. In fact, speaking at the launch Hadar, who heads Facebook’s Research and Development in Israel, said 170 countries did not represent a full global launch, but “it’s a step on the way.”
So why Instagram Lite? There are three reasons. First, it is accessible. More people can access the app and enjoy its benefits. Secondly, it uses localised languages which many users are comfortable with. Lastly, it empowers more and more people to express themselves and connect with friends.
In addition to the lite versions, Facebook in Tel Aviv also developed the Express WiFi service to bring internet access to some 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Facebook continues to innovate products that cater to the language diversity in Eastern Africa. By doing so, they try to ensure that no person gets left behind in the digital transformation and era around the world.
My name is Laura Ayienga, a 25-year-old writer & marketer, experiencing the highs (not claiming the lows) of life. I discovered my passion for writing on this very blog back in 2019 and since then, I’ve been using it to express myself as candidly and authentically as possible.