Instagram launched its smaller Lite app in 2018 only to pull it from the Play Store in spring of last year. Now, the app’s getting a relaunch with new features and a slightly larger file size. Instagram announced today that the app will start rolling out on Android to 170 countries, including the US, through the Play Store, and that the new app requires only two megabytes, compared to the regular Instagram app’s 30MB. (The original Lite app only required 573 kilobytes, however, so it’s definitely larger than that.) No iOS version is planned for now.
This bigger size allows for new features, though, including the ability to send direct messages and record and post videos. It also prominently features the Reels tab on the homepage while forgoing the shopping tab.
In a briefing, Instagram Lite product manager Nick Brown said the team has “no plans” to bring shopping to Instagram Lite, but that Reels had “a lot of engagement” in India, which is why the team decided to keep that tab in this iteration of the Lite app. (TikTok is banned in India currently and has reduced its team there, so Reels has had a chance to blossom without the competition.) Users won’t be able to make their own Reels from the app, however. They also can’t use augmented reality face filters, although the team is “absolutely” exploring it. Other, less data-intensive creation tools, like stickers, GIFs, and text can still be applied.
For now, the app doesn’t have ads, although Brown tells The Verge that the team is “committed to offering the full suite of monetization tools.” He and the team want to “take the space and time — that everything we launched in Lite we can fully support and that it is just as good of an experience as it is in the regular Instagram.”
Many companies have launched smaller, pared-down versions of their apps for users around the world who might share phones or use older devices with less storage. Facebook launched its Lite app in 2015 while TikTok launched its version in 2019. For companies that need to be global in order to grow, a smaller app is one way to bring new users on board.