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How a Lite Version Can Help Your App Get Better

Lite apps have fewer features than their full-sized counterparts. But at the same time, they use less RAM, mobile data, battery, and storage. Less is more? Many think so! Minimalist app design, already employed by Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft, may be the key to getting your product more popular.

Lite apps are taking the world by storm. Facebook Lite has already hit 500 million downloads mark and Messenger Lite has found its way onto over 100 million smartphones and tablets. It even goes as far as Android Go – a lite version of the whole OS dedicated to entry-level smartphones. Why are the industry giants so interested in developing lite apps? And why you should consider taking after them?

In a nutshell, squeezing a large app into 1 MB, responsive pint-size software will increase your chances of getting your users more engaged and conquering emerging markets. Especially if your app is heavy on video, audio and graphic content. But WHAT exactly are lite apps? For you and your product, they can be a couple of things:

Lite Apps are a salvation for older smartphones

Facebook can take up as much as 250 MB of space on the device and for this, it has been widely criticized. But the install size of Facebook Lite is only 1 MB. It really matters to people for whom every megabyte is crucial.

How a Lite Version Can Help Your App Get Better
Facebook Lite uses less storage than a regular app

And there are many of them. The smartphone market isn’t as fluid as you would’ve thought. According to Statista, users tend to stick to their devices for two years on average and not every smartphone is powerful enough to handle a demanding app. Some people count every megabyte of internal storage and RAM. And even if they don’t, they feel that something is wrong when they can’t even install your app or it doesn’t work in the background for very long. The solution? You guessed it – Lite app.

Lite apps are battery life savers

A survey conducted by Fluent LLC shows that the most important smartphone attribute is battery life – no matter if you are a Samsung, LG or iPhone user, you always want your device to stay alive for as long as possible. Power efficiency is an often overlooked perk of lite apps. But in fact, many people use them only because they don’t suck as much of the precious battery juice as their full-featured siblings. Say goodbye to battery-draining giants and welcome a lite app.

Lite apps are a remedy for limited data plans

According to GSMA, almost half of mobile internet connections are still on slow 2G networks. Apps have a hard time working properly under such harsh conditions. Large pictures take minutes to load and it is almost impossible to have a smooth video chat. Sometimes people lose their interest before they get to see the content. But whether it is limited network conditions or data plan costs that scare your potential user, lite app will solve both of those problems.

Where did all my data go?!

Lite apps transfer less data and they are not so dependent on connection speed. Sure, you won’t be able to count all the wrinkles on your interlocutor’s face when using Skype Lite, but at least you will be able to maintain a steady connection. Same goes for the extremely popular Opera Mini browser. It uses compression algorithms that reduce data consumption and can speed up the webpage load time by three times.

Lite apps are your chance for a strong presence on developing markets

Facebook, Microsoft, Google and other industry leaders want to expand their businesses to the emerging markets. Less demanding apps help them to get a foothold in countries such as Brazil or India. This is one of the main purposes of lite apps – it is obvious that most users will always choose a software tailor-made for their needs and capabilities.

How a Lite Version Can Help Your App Get Better
Apps like Twitter Lite are targeted at emerging markets

That is why YouTube Go launched in India first and it employed many market-specific features, like the ability to download videos before watching them. Even the official Skype Lite app descriptions say that it is designed especially for the Indian market.

Lite apps can be better than a mobile website

Is a lite app the only possible solution? What about a combo of a full-size app and a standard mobile website? In many cases, this can also meet your needs, but it really depends on the product.

Remember that apps always keep people more engaged: it will make them use your product more often and spend much more time with it. An eMarketer study shows that in the United States, apps are responsible for 85% time of all mobile internet activity, while web pages get only modest 15% of user’s attention.

How a Lite Version Can Help Your App Get Better
Facebook Lite can keep users engaged

This trend is also validated by Scott Havens, Global Head of Digital in Bloomberg Media. He says that an average Bloomberg mobile app user generates 25 times more page views per month than the mobile web user. Even though their app user base is not as big as the website, it still manages to bring the medium more traffic.

What about something in between? Progressive Web Apps: best of both worlds

If you are not in need of a lite app, you should at least consider getting a Progressive Web App. Progressive Web Apps (or simply PWAs) are in fact mobile web pages but tweaked to give users an app-like experience: from app-style navigation to support of push notifications that increase user engagement. You can access them via URL, but also create a shortcut to them on your smartphone home screen. Progressive Web Apps are immersive, safe and fast.

How a Lite Version Can Help Your App Get Better
Google Maps Go is in fact a Progressive Web App

Want examples? Google implemented a Progressive Web App solution in a special version of Google Maps – you can check it out here on your mobile. PWAs also gain in popularity in e-commerce and media industries. AliExpress, OLX, Forbes and The Washington Post are only a few of many giants that have put their trust in them.

What’s your view?

Do you use lite apps or Progressive Web Apps? Which popular app should definitely get a “lite treatment” in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!

Do you need a lite version of your app? We can tell you which features should be implemented in it and develop it for you. Get in touch with us!

Michał Pisarski

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Experienced Tech Writer

Former managing editor of the largest polish technological website. Journalist and reviewer specialized in mobile market.

  • Artem Dobrovinskiy

    Greate article! Thanks.
    It would be nice to also find out about how exactly these kinds of apps are developed. I assume without usage of external libraries and with very careful hanling of images, etc. If you had an experience in actually developing those apps (or one of your colleagues) — please share, I assure you you’ll get clicks;)

    • Michal Pisarski

      Artem,
      Thanks for your feedback 🙂 It this article I wanted to show people the benefits of lite apps from business perspective. However, a post about developing process of those apps would also be interesting, so I’ll talk to my team about it. I hope you’ll read it someday!
      Best regards

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