Skip mobile data: Facebook testing pre-loaded Instant Videos

A small number of Facebook's Android users are testing videos that download over Wi-Fi and pre-load before opening the Facebook app. It could help users in spotty network areas.

Instant Videos could help Facebook skirt spotty cellular networks. (Image: James Martin/CNET)

Facebook on Monday said it's testing with a small percentage of Android users an Instant Videos feature that pre-downloads videos to a user's smartphone over Wi-Fi.

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Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch the Instant Videos feature aims to remove data costs as a barrier to watching videos on its platform. With the feature enabled, users can avoid spotty cellular network connection issues and save on their cellular data allowance.

Videos pre-downloaded, indicated by a lightning bolt (via Twitter), are intended to have no load time before being viewed. It's not clear how Facebook determines which videos to pre-download or how long the videos stay downloaded to a user's smartphone.

"When you're on Wi-Fi, we'll save some videos for you so you can watch them without using mobile data," Facebook describes within its app.

Facebook recently pushed further into video with a dedicated Watch tab of original video content.

Video hits matter for Facebook. In July, the social network revealed that mobile ad revenue accounted for 87 percent of Facebook's roughly $9.2 billion in ad revenue. Facebook also reported 1.32 billion daily active users on average for June 2017, an increase of 17 percent year over year.

Facebook didn't detail when it plans to further rollout the Instant Videos feature or make it available on the iPhone. We've reached out to the social network for more information, and will update you if we learn more.