Facebook launches Facebook 'Lite'

Facebook Lite for Android

The world's most popular social network has put its main app on a crash diet so that it's lighter and nimbler and has a much smaller appetite for mobile internet data.

Called Facebook Lite, it's the social network's way of ensuring its site is genuinely accessible to consumers in emerging markets that are just getting their first entry-level smartphones. The app only takes up 1MB of space on an Android handset and has been designed to run on 2G networks and even in areas where trying to get any sort of network connection can prove challenging.

Cheap Android handsets might well be ushering in an internet revolution in the Asia Pacific region but in many cases making the handsets affordable -- ie around the $30-$50 mark -- makes them extremely basic in terms of speed, reliability and performance due to the use of the cheapest processors and other hardware components.

Despite being very lightweight, the Android app doesn't skimp on features. It supports push notifications, and users can upload images to the network via the app and use it for individual and group messaging.

The app was rolled out over the weekend with little if any fanfare on the Google Play stores of a handful of Asian and African countries including Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and Facebook will be monitoring feedback and reaction before deciding whether to offer the app to users in other countries.