Twitter has released a new, more data-efficient version of their app to enable more people in areas of low connectivity, or those with restrictive data allowances, to tap into the tweet stream.
As explained by Twitter:
"Every day, millions of people around the world use Twitter to see what's happening right now. However, there are several barriers to using Twitter, including slow mobile networks, expensive data plans, or lack of storage on mobile devices. While smartphone adoption grew to 3.8 billion connections by the end of 2016, 45% of mobile connections are still on slower 2G networks, according to GSMA."
Catering to these needs, 'Twitter Lite' minimizes data usage and loads faster on slower connections, "with up to 30% faster launch times as well as quicker navigation throughout". Twitter Lite also takes up less than 1MB on your device, maximizing storage.
And to further assist with data management, Twitter Lite also has a new 'data saver' mode to cut down on mobile data requirements.
"In this mode, you'll see a preview of images and videos before choosing which ones to fully load. This can reduce your data usage by up to 70%, making it more affordable for you to use Twitter in areas where mobile data is expensive."
The main target market for Twitter Lite appears to be India - as part of the launch, Twitter has also announced a partnership with Vodafone in India to provide live cricket updates and content to Vodafone customers, with the T20 cricket season about to begin.
"Cricket is one of the most talked about topics in India with over 10.6 million Tweets about the Indian Premier League (IPL) during last year's season. This special Twitter timeline will feature top Tweets from cricket leagues, teams, players, and commentators to give cricket fans among Vodafone's over 200 million subscribers across the country a compelling reason to use Twitter Lite to get real-time info and commentary about this popular sport."
The focus on India makes sense - with over 1.3 billion citizens, India is the second most populous nation in the world, yet only 26% of the population have access to the internet. But that figure is steadily on the rise, though as more users come online, they're generally doing so in areas with poor connection strength, so they need more data and network friendly options.
And worth noting - while Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social channels among Indian users, Twitter is ahead of Facebook Messenger (though it trails Facebook's other chat app WhatsApp).
Given the platform's popularity, and the hunger among Indian users for real-time updates on events like the T20 cricket, there's significant potential for Twitter to gain ground - and another key note, both WhatsApp and Facebook already offer their own data-friendly variations which have no doubt helped boost their appeal among Indian users.
Facebook's also making a bigger push into India - just this week, they announced the trial of a new in-stream payments option within WhatsApp specifically for the Indian market. As more Indian users come online, it'll become a larger focus for the big social networks, given the capacity to add more users and generate more revenue from this expanded audience.
Twitter Lite is now available to all users - you can access it by visiting mobile.twitter.com on your smartphone or tablet.