Facebook's company trip to Africa leads to more efficient Android app

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Mariella Moon
June 21st, 2014
In this article: android, app, facebook, mobilepostcross
Facebook's company trip to Africa leads to more efficient Android app

Facebook recently rolled out an update for Android devices that's supposed to speed things up for users. If that update delivered on its promise, then you've got the company's trip to Africa to thank -- that's how Facebook's engineers got a taste of how slow the app can be on low-end phones with developing nations' internet speeds. One of the social network's engineers, Alex Sourov, detailed in a blog post how they bought several low-end Android phones in Africa to test out their app, which didn't only crash repeatedly, but also loaded really slowly. Even worse, they ended up consuming a month's worth of data plan within 40 just minutes trying to use the app. It became apparent that they needed to give their Android app an overhaul if the social network wants to reach even more people around the globe -- so they did.

In order for Facebook to load faster on single-core devices, the engineers tweaked the app so its features don't load all at once when you launch it, and cached News Feed entries load up much earlier. Then, they decided to move away from JPEG and PNGs and transmit Facebook images using Google's WebP format, which consumes a lot less data. The app now also only loads images in resolutions and sizes that match the device's screen size -- it doesn't automatically download a full-size high-res pic, for instance, unless you specifically click on it. Finally, Facebook has reduced its app size by 65 percent in hopes that it'll play better with phones and tablets with small RAM sizes and limited storage capacities.

[Image credit: Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr]

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