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Facebook to start testing in-app video downloads in India

Facebook is preparing to test an exclusive feature in India that will let users download videos to view offline.

The social network currently boasts 142 million members in the country, with 133 million people accessing it through their mobiles. Consequently, Facebook’s growth in the developing Indian market hinges on the costly mobile data usage tied to its app.

Following in the footsteps of YouTube, which announced its similar “Smart Offline” video downloads program for India last month, Facebook will trial the feature starting from July 11.

To avoid any piracy hurdles that may cause a backlash with media providers, Facebook has locked the downloads option to its app, meaning videos can’t be saved to a device’s library. Users can sync videos to the Facebook app over a Wi-Fi connection to be viewed offline at their discretion.

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“In markets like India, mobile data and connectivity are limited, which can leave people with poor video experiences or no streaming ability at all,” states Facebook in an email announcing the test. “We want to make the video experience on Facebook great for people in all parts of the world.”

In June, it was revealed that another Facebook venture aimed at emerging countries was witnessing rapid growth in India, and parts of Africa. Facebook Lite, an app catered to users on slower mobile networks, saw a 16-fold increase in Android app downloads in India since its launch in June 2015.

Facebook has previously met with legal obstacles when targeting users in the region. It suffered a major setback when the country banned its free internet tool, Free Basics by Facebook, on the grounds of net neutrality earlier this year.

In its place, these data-centric options may help the social network expand as it looks to grow beyond developed countries.