Twitter Lite: Faster, smaller app with offline mode arrives for slow mobile networks

Twitter's new lite service is aiming to attract users in areas with poor internet connectivity.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

As well as launching Twitter Lite, Twitter says its new data-saver mode substitutes images with a blurred preview, reducing data usage by up to 70 percent.

Image: Twitter

Twitter has rolled out a Lite version of its service to attract more users in areas where mobile networks are slow and expensive and in emerging markets.

If you're ever traveling to, or living in, an area with poor mobile connectivity, Twitter Lite at mobile.twitter.com could be the best option to use from now on.

The mobile-friendly web app, which launches worldwide today, takes up less than 1MB of space on a device and features up to 30 percent faster launch times and faster navigation, according to Twitter. Features include the Twitter timeline, tweets, direct messages, trends, profiles, media uploads, and push notifications.

Supported browsers include newer versions of Chrome, Firefox, the Android Browser, Microsoft Edge, and Opera.

Lite arrives amid lingering questions about Twitter's future and this week's sudden spike in interest in the Twitter-like open-source social network Mastodon, following Twitter's decision to change the way it displays replies.

Over a decade after launching, Twitter today has about 319 million users, and is dwarfed by Facebook's 1.9 billion users. The move to cater to users on slower mobile networks follows similar services offered by Google and Facebook aimed at growing users in emerging markets.

Twitter Lite is a JavaScript-based web app, while a Node.js server handles authentication and HTML rendering. Data is fed to the web app from the Twitter API. This design enables Twitter Lite to become interactive in under five seconds for most mobile devices on a 3G network, according to Twitter.

Twitter also says it's reduced the impact of images on data usage by as much as 40 percent. A new data-saver mode cuts image overheads further by substituting images with a blurred preview, reducing data usage by up to 70 percent.

On Android devices, it will also support temporary offline browsing and near-instant loading on repeat visits, thanks to Chrome's Service Worker feature.

Unlike the Twitter app, the lite version doesn't require users to have an account with the App Store of Google Play. Users also won't need an email account or credit card.

Twitter has also teamed up with Vodafone in India to promote the Twitter Lite to its 200 million subscribers as an easy way to get cricket updates as the T20 season kicks off.

Users in India who enable data-saver mode will see a preview of images and videos before choosing whether or not to load them.

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