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Facebook Lite takes social media back to the basics

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App Attack is a weekly series where we search the App Store and Google Play Store for the best apps of the week. Check out App Attack every Sunday for the latest.

There’s an app for everything nowadays — which means it’s easy to quickly fill up your storage on your smartphone. This week, we have a lighter version of an app that you most likely scroll through a few times a day.

Facebook Lite — available for Android — has officially expanded to the U.S. Facebook originally built the app specifically for those in developing countries who have slower connectivity. With an APK (Android Package Kit) of less than 1 megabyte in size to install, people can download it in seconds, regardless of how sluggish their connection is.

To compare, the regular Facebook app on Android has a download size of 63 megabytes, which is why I was particularly interested in downloading Facebook Lite instead. But of course, with daily use, both versions of the app accrue data in the cache when looking at stories, images, posts, and other content. Using the regular Facebook app, three weeks of usage took up about 567 megabytes of storage. Since Facebook Lite was only released a few days ago, I’ll be monitoring my app usage closely to provide a more accurate comparison for how much storage it takes up.

It’s also important to note that everyone’s usage does vary and that I don’t open Facebook unless I have a notification or need to use the search tool. For those who use Facebook far more often, it might take up a bit more storage. But to keep that number low, you can use the Lite app to remove any unnecessary app files through the app itself — a feature that isn’t available on the Facebook app. But you can also do the same by going to Settings > Apps & notifications > Storage > Clear Cache for either of the Facebook apps.

With Facebook Lite, you still have access to all of the basic features, like posting to a timeline, searching people, liking photos and posts, as well as editing your profile and groups. There’s also special features such as finding and RSVPing to local social events, saving photos to specific photo album, following others, looking up information on local businesses, and more. You can also view stories people stories and add your own.

I didn’t mind the fact that I wasn’t able to access features like Watchlist, Live, or Marketplace, because I’ve actually never even used them. My Facebook usage is narrowed down to the basics — all I need to be able to do is view my notifications and scroll mindlessly through the feed. With Facebook Lite, I can easily accomplish both those tasks.

The only downside is the interface, which is completely stripped down version of the main Facebook app, plus it looks a bit dated. But that’s to be expected with a lite version that takes up so little room and also works on 2G networks. At the top, you have what looks like a toolbar with your timeline, friend requests, Messenger Lite (which you’ll have to download if you want to send messages) notifications, search tool, and a space to access all of the different features along with your settings.

The navigations are the same as well, but the interface isn’t as smooth — it feels a bit more rigid. But it’s easy to get used to and doesn’t negatively impact scrolling or tapping on different posts. It’s also barely noticeable once you’re on the app for a while. Whenever you pull down on refresh your feed, you’ll see a status bar load at the top, which loads the feed slower than the regular Facebook app, but only by a few seconds. The photos are also as clear as they would be on the regular Facebook app, so you don’t have to deal with glitchy or grainy pictures or videos while scrolling through.

While it’s definitely not as glamorous in comparison to the Facebook app, Lite is for those who are looking for a less bloated and less saturated version of Facebook. But it also might not be the best option for those who use Facebook constantly. It provides more of the old-school Facebook feel, where its only purpose was to connect, interact, and keep up with old friends and family. If you’re looking to go back to the basics, then this app is definitely the better option.

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Brenda Stolyar
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