As readers will know, I’ve recently had problems with the limited internal memory on my $50 7-inch Amazon Fire. One of the biggest culprits – literally – has been the official Facebook Android app, which comes bundled with the basic Amazon Fire package. However, now a solution of sorts appears to have hove in view, in the shape of Facebook Lite.
The official Facebook app can run to 590 MB in size, with almost 90 MB in cached data alone, in my experience. That’s way more than the entire available internal memory on some earlier model and cheaper phones. Realising the problem, Facebook came up with Facebook Lite, a drastically pruned version for lower-spec devices and emerging markets with poorer connectivity. The quoted size on the Google Play Store is just 584 KB, although the actual install on my device weighs in at 4.8 MB. Either way, though, it’s not likely to break anyone’s storage capacity.
With that huge cutback in bloatware, you’re obviously not getting the full Facebook experience. How good is it though? You certainly do get the usual status updates, article views, etc. The look is very similar to the mobile version of Facebook you see in mobile browsers. And you do also get Messenger access too, if you haven’t already installed this as a separate app. Some newer bells and whistles, such as the enlarged range of Reply/Like emoticons, are missing so far, and the interface does look basic. Pictures load when you scroll past them rather than popping up all at once, which may save data but also requires patience. But I’d say for the average undemanding Facebook user, you’re getting 90 percent of what you need.
Unfortunately, it misses on some of its boasts. For one thing, it doesn’t work, as claimed, on all Android phones. It won’t install properly on my Vodafone Smart 6 Grand, resolutely failing to load once installed. For another, it’s been fast and responsive on my Fire, but others have complained of slow and clunky functionality. Worse, at this point at least, it won’t do landscape view, and sticks resolutely to portrait. On a tablet, that’s clearly a drag – though not enough to send me back to the old Facebook app.
Finally, Facebook Lite is not as yet available on the Amazon App Store, as far as I can see, at least. This won’t be a problem if you’ve hacked your Fire to run the full Google Play Store and regular Android apps. But if not, you’ll only be able to install it by sideloading an apk file. Still worth it for the memory saved, though, I’d say.
The Facebook app is a true hog. I have deleted it from my phone and tablets and now use it exclusively on my laptops. Unfortunately, the march to humongous apps is not limited to them. Even the Kindle app, as good as it is, has become more bloated than necessary as they try to cram in an increasingly large number of features. The Kindle app just barely loads on older devices with less RAM. Fortunately, it’s easy to load earlier versions that run just fine. App developers need to learn how to keep their apps lean in order to improve functionality.
I uninstalled the app last month and just put a shortcut link to the mobile version of Facebook on my homepage. It works just fine. I still get the notifications I want, it takes up less memory AND my battery life has increased noticeably. I definitely think this is the way to go.