You may have noticed the prevalence of “lightweight” versions of common, popular apps. So what exactly are they? Generally, these trimmed-down versions provide the same basic features as the full apps but typically require less storage space.
They also use less data than their standard counterparts, making them perfect for those with spotty connections or for those who have limited data plans.
In addition, lightweight apps are optimized to function on lower-end hardware. This improves the apps’ performance and can even help to increase battery life, as the apps do not require as much processing power or RAM to operate.
Developers will design slimmed down versions of their apps for emerging markets. These are countries and areas that don’t have access to fast Internet speeds or unreliable connectivity. However, just because they’re designed for a specific region doesn’t mean you can’t use them.
Advantages of Lightweight Apps
Even if you enjoy blazing fast Internet speeds and have the latest flagship, it doesn’t mean you won’t find some significant advantages in using lightweight apps. Since these apps are designed to consume less data, they can help you manage your data allowance.
Obviously, if you have unlimited mobile data, this doesn’t really matter, but anyone with a metered allotment could benefit. Additionally, since these apps are designed to run on low-end devices, they perform exceedingly well on virtually any handset.
Finally, some of these lightweight apps strip the additional features that make their standard counterparts feel bloated. Let’s take a look at some of the best lightweight versions of popular apps.
Note: some of these apps may not be available for download from the Play Store in your region. You can search ApkMirror for the respective apk files.
1. Gmail Go
Gmail Go is the latest addition to Google’s “Go” series of lightweight apps aimed at emerging markets. The email app is less than 10MB and uses less mobile data by excising non-essential functions. This enables users who have data restrictions or spotty connections to take advantage of Google’s email client.
Furthermore, Gmail Go requires less RAM and other system resources. This helps the performance of the app on low-end devices as well as being kinder on the battery. Gmail Go still supports multiple accounts as well as sorting emails into categories. In addition, users will still have access to the standard 15GB of free storage.
2. YouTube Go
Like Gmail Go, YouTube Go is a stripped-down version of the standard YouTube app. It was designed to work in areas that have slow Internet speeds and unreliable networks. Because of this, there is emphasis on downloading videos as opposed to streaming them. Upon clicking on a video to watch, a pop-up window appears informing the user how much data that video will consume. It also gives the user the option to stream or download the video to avoid constant interruptions and buffering. This is handy for those who know that connectivity is an issue.
YouTube Go presents videos in a single scrolling list, and there are only two tabs: Home and Downloads. This means that a significant amount of functionality has been removed from the standard app. There are no subscriptions, no uploading capabilities, and no playlists.
3. Facebook Lite
Like all the other apps on this list, Facebook Lite was designed for emerging markets. Emerging markets usually suffer from slow Internet speeds, so Facebook Lite is optimized to run on 2G networks. The advantage to using Facebook Lite when you have a speedy, stable connection is that the app is lightning fast. In addition, it can be installed on really old versions of Android, all the way back to 2.3 Gingerbread. They’re still going to mine all your data though.
4. Facebook Messenger Lite
Facebook Messenger Lite is another small, less-data-hungry version of a standard app but with a significant difference. It gets rid of all the extra stuff that Facebook has jammed into the standard Messenger app. You won’t be able to play chess or order an Uber or design animated emojis. Messenger Lite does one thing and one thing only, sends instant messages.
5. Skype Lite
There are arguably better video chat clients available, but Skype is still a titan in the industry. Skype Lite was designed for the Indian market and can operate on 2G mobile networks. This trimmed-down version of Skype is basically a throwback to the Skype of yesteryear.
Its design and function is reminiscent of older versions of Skype, before the app became bloated with Snapchat-like features. Since it is technically only for users in India, the Skype Lite app is currently in an “unreleased” form. This means there can be various bugs or glitches present. However, if you pine for the simpler days of Skype, you might want to give it a try.
6. Via Browser
Everyone has their favorite web browser, but some of the most popular can be pretty bloated. Fortunately, there are many slimmed-down browsers out there that have a small footprint. Via Browser has over 1,000,000 downloads and a 4.5 star rating on Google Play. It is a bare-bones browser designed for speed. Similarly, Fastest Mini Browser also boasts very similar stats.
Amazon has also developed a tiny browser called Internet that is a little over 2MB in size. Unfortunately, the app is currently being slowly rolled out in India, and Amazon has remained tight-lipped on whether it will be released in other regions. Of course, if you can’t fathom the idea of abandoning a “heavier” browser like Chrome, most feature a “data saver” mode designed to limit the amount of data required to load web pages.
Do you prefer to use lightweight versions of apps? Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!