SAN FRANCISCO: Instagram, the video-sharing platform owned by Facebook, has quietly launched a stripped-down version of the app that may prove popular in emerging markets.

First reported by TechCrunch, the new ‘Instagram Lite’ has been developed for Android phones and comes with a file size of just 573 kilobytes compared to the 32 megabytes found in the original version.

TechCrunch, which was informed of the release by mobile analytics service Sensor Tower, said Instagram Lite appeared in the Google Play App Store on Wednesday with no prior announcement from the company.

Even though Instagram Lite is just 1/55th the size of the main Instagram app, it still enables users to filter and post photos to the feed or Stories, watch Stories and browse the Explore page – although it currently won’t allow videos to be shared or to message friends.

However, it is understood that video-posting and messaging capabilities will be added to the app later this year when it is launched in more markets beyond Mexico where it has been undergoing tests.

“We are testing a new version of Instagram for Android that takes up less space on your device, uses less data, and starts faster,” a spokesperson for the company confirmed, while declining to mention whether ads would be included.

Instagram’s introduction of a lighter version of itself follows similar moves by Facebook, which has launched both Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite.

The growing trend is recognition that many people in emerging markets have to contend with slower network connections on older devices that have limited storage space.

And users in these markets also often have limited data plans, and this is where an app like Instagram Lite can help to provide a solution.

In addition, Instagram, which last week announced that it now has one billion monthly active users – up from 800 million in September 2017 – will be aware that much of its future growth will come from developing markets.

Sourced from TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff