The New Internet Phenomenon: Lite/Go Apps and Why They're So Popular

Smartphones are now an essential aspect of day to day living. They help make our lives a lot easier by bringing all communication into one place. Facebook and Google are extremely popular apps. Facebook, of course, is the gargantuan social media platform that seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. Google is arguably the center of the internet, that omniscient portal where answers to all conceivable questions come from. And now, you have these pillars of revolution not just in your pocket, but as newer, faster, leaner apps.

We are, of course, referring to Facebook Lite and Google Go applications. These are two examples of internet giants downsizing their platforms, making them sleeker and simpler. This trend has changed the way apps are made, with many companies choosing to streamline their user interfaces from the get go. If you are or aspire to be a tech savvy person, the first thing you need to understand are the differences between Lite and Go apps and their non Lite/Go counterparts. A lot of these differences are intuitive. Others still are less easily apparent. All of them reveal an important trend in the world of tech.

What’s the Difference?

The first difference, of course, is that Lite/Go apps are lighter. For example, the Facebook's app installer is about 60MB (on Play Store), Facebook Lite is just a couple of megabytes. Similarly, the Google app is generally around 60MB as well and can sometimes even go up to 70MB. Google Go, on the other hand, is less than 5MB. This is clearly a significant difference. Another difference, mainly between Google and Google Go, is speed. Google Go loads very fast because it does not have complicated graphics, the developers opting for a static screen instead.

User interfaces greatly differ between the two types of apps as well. You will see fewer graphics overall. Facebook Lite tends to have smaller text than the full version, and a lot of the media is downsized so that it does not use up too much RAM. All of the fancy stuff has been removed. The user interface is also built to be a lot simpler overall. The Google Go app only has the search bar. The full app tends to show you your search history and the like as well, which of course is going the make the app a lot heavier than it would have been otherwise.

These lighter user interfaces are designed to make the apps use less data. The lack of graphics means that minimal data is used in the loading process, because text and links are a lot lighter than other areas of this app. Google Go’s lighter interface actually adds some functionality as well. For example, you get a list of sites that you can go to with a single tap. This helps make the user experience a lot more fluid and functional than it would have been otherwise.

Google Go further gives you additional options such as image search as well as a list of random yet entertaining things. This includes things like a horoscope, a quote of the day feature as well as a lot of other things that can help you make the most of your Google experience. These features were added because these apps were primarily created for emerging markets (especially for countries with the slowest internet speeds). The biggest of these emerging markets are places like Africa, India, Pakistan, etc. The way consumers function here is different from the way they do in the west. These are features that are highly sought after, and Google in trying to capture this market has made an app that was made to tackle just that.

Facebook Lite, on the other hand, has a lot of features as well. These features include an integrated messenger. Since the purpose of these apps is to do more with less, it makes sense that Facebook would add the messenger feature to the lite app. This helps people get everything they need from a single platform instead of having to download multiple apps.

Emerging markets include a lot of people that are not completely familiar with the way apps work, so having them install multiple apps might be counterintuitive. Having them get used to a single app would make the platform a lot more accessible to the public. It should be noted that the messenger feature in Facebook lite loses some of its functionality. For example, you can’t call or send images through it. The app works perfectly for basic messaging however, and it is understandable that these two heavy features would be removed so that the app becomes lighter and more streamlined.
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Google Go adds a few more cool features as well. For example, you can set a custom background image. One can assume that this feature is there so that the lack of heavy graphics does not affect the app’s aesthetic appeal too much. Another more practical feature that the Google Go app has comes from the fact that Lite and Go apps are meant to target emerging markets once again. This feature is that when you first open the app you get to choose the language that you will be using on the app. The main Google app tends to automatically use the language that your phone has been set to. Choosing a different language for the app is quite useful because you might have a second or even third language that you might want to use your app in. Emerging markets often have consumers that have second and third languages.

What Are Lite and Go Apps, and Why Are They Getting So Popular?

The Google Go app also gives you the ability to share your search results on messaging apps or on social media. This is a useful feature that Google’s main app doesn’t have. Some functionality that you lose out on when you are using the Go app is a customized feed. Google also plans on introducing a new tab that would show you a list of events that are happening nearby. This tab would also include flight times for a variety of different airlines departing from your nearest airport. It is presumable that Google is doing this in order to compete with the new FB Local app that lists all of the Facebook events happening nearby.

Why Are Lite/Go Apps Becoming So Popular?

It is plain to see that Lite/Go apps are quite different from their standard counterparts. When you notice all of the differences, you can see why people would want to use these apps. Emerging markets usually have people using cheaper and weaker phones. The lighter apps are easier on the RAM of these cheaper phones. Also, mobile data is not as widely available or abundant as it is in the west. People in emerging markets tend to want to save as much data as possible. Hence, an app that uses less data is definitely going to be very popular indeed.

These apps have also been very intelligently designed to tackle emerging markets. The language features in the Google Go app are very useful indeed. They can help people who don’t speak English gain access to one of the most important facets of the internet and end up becoming a lot more connected than they would have been otherwise. The app’s features are also designed to cater to the demands of an emerging market, such as the image sharing feature which most users in the west would not find very useful. These apps are also very streamlined and their user interfaces are drastically simpler. Emerging markets involve a lot of people that don’t know how apps work. This is a large potential market that these internet giants are definitely going to want to tackle, and this is how they are choosing to do it.
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Lite and Go apps are also seeing increased interest in established markets as well. After all, Apple phones are notorious for eating up too much space. The iPhone’s constant insistence that you are out of storage space on your phone has become the source of much humor on the internet. Hence, people might want to use an app that uses up monumentally less data instead. These apps also take up less space over the course of time. This is because of the lack of graphics and other heavy visuals, and the fact that the Facebook Lite messenger does not let you share photos also means that far less pressure is placed on your storage space.

The primary apps will always be more popular simply because they are more powerful and have more features. However, Lite and Go apps show that the internet can be a very accessible place. These apps are a sign of utilitarianism in the internet’s future. We are slowly becoming increasingly less involved with things like fancy aesthetics and unnecessary features. Instead, consumers are looking for something simple and clean, something that gets the job done. Maybe it’s because the Internet generation is getting older. Or maybe it is because this tech is reaching more places in the world. Only time will tell.

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