Twitter Lite is moving from being a progressive web app to a native Android app

Back in April, Twitter gave its mobile website a big revamp by making it a progressive web app and renaming it Twitter Lite. This was the beginning of the company’s embrace of the over 250 million users who reside outside its home, the United States, and who, for one reason or the other, may not be in a position to experience Twitter as users in advanced markets are. Mostly, such reasons include high internet costs and strained access to networks.

While Twitter does not find itself in the same position as Facebook whereby it can do something to make access to the internet better or lower the cost of browsing in emerging markets, it can, however, do something about its products. Tailor them to be able to work for its users in emerging markets and elsewhere. That was what Twitter Lite set out to do. To provide almost the full experience of the Twitter app available for mobile devices while barely denting the resources i.e. taking up as little space as possible and using data sparingly. That has so far worked very well and it’s probably why Twitter is taking the next step: shifting from having Twitter Lite as just a progressive web application to it being a native application.

As explained before, a native application simply resides on a device and has access to system-level resources like the camera, other device sensors etc while a web app’s functionality is pretty much limited to the capabilities of a web browser, where it resides.

Twitter has now listed on the Google Play Store, for the first time ever, a Twitter Lite app, marking a departure from the days when Twitter Lite was, at best, a mere browser page shortcut on our home screens.

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The Twitter Lite app, however, is currently limited to users residing in the Philippines. While not yet confirmed, we expect to see it roll out to Twitter users in other countries, including Kenya, in days to come.

The app, as per its Play Store listing, is just a little over 400 kilobytes which is super impressive.

Two months ago, LinkedIn became the latest company to join the likes of Facebook in providing a “lite” experience to its users. LinkedIn’s Lite app became available to users in Kenya and 24 other African countries early last month. Facebook has had its Messenger Lite and Facebook Lite applications for a while now while earlier in the year it announced plans to have Instagram tuned to cater for users using slow networks. Google, too, has been testing various solutions meant for users in places where internet connectivity is either problematic or out of the reach of many.

First hands-on with the Twitter Lite app

It may take a while for Twitter Lite to show up for users outside the Philippines on the Google Play Store but since we are not restricted to just downloading and installing applications only from the Play Store, that means that the app can be found elsewhere and sideloaded. I did exactly that.

The Twitter Lite native Android app is pretty much like the mobile web app as far as features go. It still has a data saver that strips the timeline of any multimedia content when turned on. From my experience, it’s way faster than I expected. Than the somehow bloated official Twitter app for Android.

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You can download Twitter Lite Android app via APKMirror.

Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com