There comes a time in every smartphone user's life when they must decide which matters most: 421 photos of the neighbor’s cat or the ability to check Facebook while in the bathroom. But that choice could be a thing of the past: Developers now offer simpler, less data-hungry versions of popular apps like Facebook, Skype, and Twitter.
Most of these "lite" versions weren’t actually designed to solve your cat-shrine issue. They’re an answer to a more pressing need: how to keep mobile users connected in countries with underdeveloped telecom infrastructure. Phones in these regions are often cheap and limited in data storage and functionality, which had previously made it impossible for users to access the platforms we so often take for granted.
The Facebook Lite app is tricky to download from the U.S. and more developed parts of the world, but it can be done—at least on Android phones. The app isn't as pretty as the full version, but it's much nimbler. It has the messaging feature built right in, but you can also download the stand-alone version if you prefer. iPhone users can save battery life by using Facebook’s mobile site instead of the app.
The above download process also works for Skype Lite, which is also currently only available for Android phones. This slimmed-down version plays nicer with your phone's battery and will even tell you how much data you’ve used.
Twitter and Instagram’s lite versions aren’t apps at all, but fully functioning sites. You can access Twitter Lite here and Instagram here. David Nield at Gizmodo’s Field Guide has a few tips for getting even more out of your data:
Tap your avatar then turn on Data Saver. To pin a shortcut to Twitter Lite to your home screen, open the main Chrome app menu and choose Add to Home screen (Android) or tap the Share button in Safari then select Add to Home Screen. Tap the icon you’ve created and Twitter Lite opens in your browser.
All set? Good. Now let's see that pic of Fluffy in the chef's toque again.
[h/t Field Guide]