Instagram has quietly launched a slimmed-down version of its photo sharing app that uses less data, starts up faster, and takes up less space on mobile devices than the current version. After hitting a billion users last week, the service is now looking to propel that growth even further by targeting emerging countries.

Instagram Lite is already available in Mexico, and other countries will soon be added. Instagram has been growing at a rate of approximately 100 million users every four months, many of whom are coming from countries in the developing world. Instagram is also benefiting from Snapchat ignoring international markets in favour of focusing on American teens; this has given them a chance to make big inroads in nations like Brazil and India. It’s not yet known whether they will also release the app in the U.S. for people who would prefer a less bloated version of the main app. Instagram also revamped its mobile website last month with the developing world in mind.

The new app takes up just 573 kilobytes; the iOS version is 246 times larger at 141 megabytes. Many people in the developing world use older phones that don’t have a lot of storage space. Slow network connection speeds are a serious impediment in some places, and data packages are out of the financial reach of many customers. This app should download quite quickly even with a slow internet connection, and users won’t have to worry about deleting photos to make room on their device for it.

It’s available through the Google Play Store for Android smartphones; it will work on devices that run Android 5.0 (Lollipop) or above. Although Android Lollipop was launched in 2014, older phones can support it with software updates.

What functionality does Instagram Lite offer?

Instagram Lite offers most of the same functionality as the full version of the Instagram app, with a few exceptions. Users will be able to post and filter photos, use the Explore tab, share stories, and view them, but they won’t be able to share videos and send direct messages between users. Messaging and video posting could be added to the app eventually; Instagram also offers a standalone messaging app called Direct. It’s not yet clear whether ads will be included.

Facebook already offers lighter versions of its main app and its Messenger app for markets outside of Europe and North America. The Facebook Lite app was launched in 2015, and by 2017, it already had 200 million users. Earlier this month, Uber released a Lite app of its own.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.