Twitter is packaging its data-friendly, space-saving Lite mobile web app into a native app version, starting with Android.
The social media firm is testing the Android app only in the Philippines for now, paving the way for a mainstream release down the road, TechCrunch reports.
Like the mobile web version that was released earlier in April, the Twitter Lite app is made to take up less space on your device (less than 3MB), and demand less resources, so it can load faster on low-end to mid-range smartphones.
More importantly, the app is made to weather patchy data coverage, so it’ll have some caching to work offline. It’ll also show a preview of images and videos, and will only download media if the user chooses to.
Both the app and web version look fairly identical in terms of UI and function, but the app is likely to help draw more people to Twitter Lite by being listed on Google Play.
It’s also more likely to retain user logins, compared with the mobile version, so it’ll make the experience smoother.
The Philippines is a smart choice as an early testbed. The country’s users are one of the world’s most active on social media, and it adds mobile users at a faster rate than many other developing markets.
Twitter Lite comes over two years after Facebook launched its low-data version, Facebook Lite on Android.
By February this year, Facebook Lite already grew its user base to 200 million.
These “light” apps are essential for the companies to grow their user bases in developing markets, as more users experience the web for the first time via mobile handsets. Chances are, many of those handsets are lower-end Android devices — and not pricier iPhones — which is why we don’t see developers bringing these to iOS.