A spokesman told AFP in an email that the "Facebook Lite" Android app is designed "for people on 2G (second-generation) connections or in areas of limited Internet accessibility."
TechCrunch reports that the app has been launched in select Asian and African markets over the weekend including Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the app is currently not available in India; though we can expect a rollout soon.
Facebook says it is currently testing the app, and is reported to have plans for a wider rollout. The report however speculates, "Facebook could quietly can the project if it doesn't believe it is worth pursuing."
The Facebook Lite Google Play listing notes, "This version of Facebook uses less data and works in all network conditions." It adds that the app is less than 1MB (precisely 252KB) in size and designed for 2G networks and areas with limited network connectivity.
At the time of writing, the Facebook Lite app had up to 10,000-50,000 downloads on the Google Play. The app is compatible with Android 2.2 and above. Impatient users unable to wait for the rollout in their regions can sideload the signed apk via Android Police.
The move is said to expand Facebook's efforts to grow the world's biggest social network, which already has more than a billion users. Most of Facebook's growth is coming from emerging markets, but many people lack the phones or computers needed for the full-featured app. The "lite" version can allow users with low-cost Android handsets to quickly load Facebook feeds and photos. The social network has launched a project called Internet.org to help bring connectivity to underserved regions of the world.
Written with AFP inputs