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Twitter launches ‘lite’ app for emerging markets; ties up with Vodafone

Twitter released a data-optimised version of its service – Twitter Lite -on mobile for emerging markets Thursday. Twitter Lite is a progressive web app (PWA), which the company claims is 30% faster than its native app and reduces data usage. Unlike native apps, which are saved on the mobile, PWAs use the mobile browser to deliver app like experience.

Twitter Lite is available at mobile.twitter.com. The PWA provides all the features of Twitter–timeline, Tweets, Direct Messages, trends, profiles, media uploads, notifications, etc.–on a mobile browser. The service is aimed at emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Africa where users experience patchy internet on 2G and 3G networks.

“It works on most smartphones and tablets without an App Store or Google Play account. You won’t need an email account or credit card either,” Twitter said on its blog. New users can sign up to Twitter using their phone numbers and names.

Note that this isn’t the first time Twitter has tried to get people on 2G and spotty 3G networks on the service. It had started a new set of users known as SMS fast followers.  These are users who signed up and accessed Twitter solely via SMS.  Twitter had bought  ZipDial in 2015, a Bangalore-based mobile marketing & analytics company. Twitter and ZipDial had developed a platform where users could get could receive tweets from a Twitter account via SMS by dialing a phone number.

Nikhil adds: Twitter is really late in the game. Facebook already has a lite app with over 100 million users. Moreover, Twitter would have adapted and grown quicker if it hadn’t put massive limits on third-party apps using its API.

Twitter Lite caches data so that it keeps loading content even when the network fails. “Twitter Lite is network resilient. When available, we use a Service Worker to enable temporary offline browsing and near-instant loading on repeat visits, regardless of the network conditions,” another Twitter blog post said.

The app uses less than 1MB storage on mobile making it optimal for cheap handsets without large internal memory.

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Twitter Lite also boasts of a data saving mode which reduces the amount of mobile data used. In the data saving mode, users will see a preview of images and videos before choosing which ones to fully load.

Twitter claims, on data saving mode users will be able to save up to 70% data.

Users of Google Chrome and other modern browsers on Android devices will also receive push notifications directly on to their devices without downloading the Twitter app.

Twitter-Vodafone partnership

To grow and push the app usage in India, Twitter Lite has been made compatible with six Indic languages: Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Gujarati, and Marathi. Twitter has also tied up with Vodafone to provide live cricket updates via a specially curated Twitter timeline to their smartphone customers. The special timeline will feature top Tweets from cricket leagues, teams, players, and commentators to give Vodafone subscribers get real-time info and commentary.

Vodafone subscribers will receive an SMS alert with a link to the special curated timeline on Twitter Lite where they can follow the updates real-time. Beyond the specially curated timeline, Twitter has partnered with Cricbuzz and ESPNcricInfo to generate T20 content.

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