Facebook makes its Android App “Africa usable”
One of Facebook’s network’s engineers, Alex Sourov, wrote a detailed blog post how they bought several low-end Android phones in Africa to test the Facebook Android App, which by no surprise didn’t only crash often, but also loaded like a snail, thanks to the slow internet speeds. Facebook wants to connect the next 5 billion people and they won’t be able to achieve this goal if their app is not up to scratch in the target areas. During their tests with the app they also found out that they burnt over a month’s worth of data within 40 just minutes. With such findings it became clear that they had to make the app “Africa usable” and this could only be achieved by a complete overhaul of the social network app.
“Facebook has reduced its app size by 65 percent”
This trip to Africa, gave birth to the recently rolled out Facebook App update for Android devices that’s supposed to speed things up. Most of the Android smartphones we use here in Africa run on single core processors and this forced the Facebook Engineers to tweak their app such that all features don’t load at once when launched. For the pictures, the company has moved away from JPEG and PNGs and now has adopted Google’s WebP format, which consumes a lot less data. Image resolutions and sizes will be loaded based on device’s screen size.
In the end, Facebook has reduced its app size by 65 percent and they know the update will speed things up on both phones and tablets with low specs. For the future, the company on it’s blog said
Our trip to Africa really highlighted the importance of our work on mobile performance, data efficiency, networking reliability, and application size for emerging markets. We’ve made a concerted effort to improve in all these areas and achieved a significant amount of success in the past year.