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Twitter Launches Lightweight Mobile Site for Emerging Markets

Variety logo Variety 4/6/2017 Janko Roettgers

Twitter launched a new mobile website Thursday that promises faster load times and less data consumption. In a nod to emerging markets, Twitter also added a bandwidth saver mode that lets users browse their timeline with the ability to selectively load images.

“There are several barriers to using Twitter, including slow mobile networks, expensive data plans, or lack of storage on mobile devices,” wrote Twitter Product Manager Patrick Traughber in a blog post. “While smartphone adoption grew to 3.8 billion connections by the end of 2016, 45% of mobile connections are still on slower 2G networks.”

The new mobile site site, which the company officially calls Twitter Lite, promises 30 percent faster launch times. The site also gobbles up less than one megabyte of memory, and supports an offline mode that allows users to keep browsing their timeline even if they temporarily lose access to the mobile internet.

Twitter Lite launched worldwide Thursday, but the site has been especially built with users in markets like Africa and South America in mind. To account for slow mobile networks and high connectivity costs, users can enable a “bandwidth saver” mode that loads previews of embedded images, allowing them to individually select which image to load. In addition, users can also select not to show any images at all.

Twitter Lite also comes without Moments or the company’s new Discover tab, which is supposed to help with the discovery of live video streams. However, users who access the service without a mobile app likely wouldn’t have tuned into those streams anyway. Instead, Twitter Lite is targeting users who may have accessed the service in the past via mobile messaging, which offers the company fewer monetization options than this new lightweight web version.

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