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Facebook's new app for developing countries is just 252KB

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Facebook Lite is designed to work on 2G networks and use minimal data

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Facebook has always made a point of catering to people with poor internet connections, and now it’s giving these users a dedicated app: Facebook Lite. Available only for Android phones in select countries, the app is just 252 kilobytes in size and is designed specially to work on 2G networks and in areas with bad connectivity. It’s based on the Snaptu version of Facebook that runs on feature phones, but adds functionality like push notifications and camera integration. TechCrunch reports that the app launched as a test in just a few countries in Africa and Asia last weekend ("Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe to be precise"), but that a wider launch is "not a certainty."

Facebook Lite in action. (Facebook)

Smartphone sales are predicted to rise by 15 percent this year

Facebook has long known that its future lies in mobile, but if it wants to keep growing then it also has to attract users in countries where internet connectivity is poor. Smartphones sales are predicted to rise by 15 percent this year as prices fall to what analysts describe as the sweet spot of $30 a device. Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Vietnam are among the fastest growing countries for smartphone adoption, and not surprisingly, these nations also show up on the launch list for Facebook Lite. However, this is just one of the social network's many initiatives to get more people online (and more people signed up for Facebook), including its Internet.org project encouraging carriers to offer free access to certain sites and its would-be fleet of solar-powered drones. By comparison, creating a 2G-optimized app for Android smartphones is just common sense.