I have always been an advocate of designing apps and services for greater resource efficiency, be it power, performance or mobile internet. While everyone is shouting themselves hoarse over how the future is that we guzzle more and more, the truth is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Facebook sent a team of engineers to Africa where they tested their Android app on various low end devices, and found how horrible it performed.
Here is an excerpt from the Facebook post:
However, our mission extends far beyond building and delivering the best experience on high-end smartphones and LTE networks. We want Facebook to work for everyone – no matter the region, network condition, or mobile device.
To help accomplish this goal, a team of product managers and engineers traveled to Africa to examine mobile performance in developing countries. We purchased several different Android handsets to test the latest version of the Facebook app – and the testing process proved to be difficult. The combination of an intermittent, low-bandwidth network connection and a lack of memory space on the devices resulted in slow load times and constant crashes. We even burned through our monthly data plans in 40 minutes.
We returned to our offices in Seattle, London, and Menlo Park determined to enhance the Facebook experience on Android – and soon made major improvements in performance, data efficiency, networking, and application size.
How Facebook Made Their App Less Resource Intensive
Here are the improvements to the Facebook app based on the findings of the trip:
- Performance: changes made reduced start times by more than 50 percent in the six months following the trip to Africa.
- Data Efficiency: the work on data efficiency resulted in a 50 percent reduction in data use compared with earlier last year.
- Networking: reports of slow or failed image loads dropped by almost 90 percent over the past year.
- App Size: the app size has been reduced by 65 percent compared with the beginning of the year.
Dear developer, no matter how powerful the flagship devices get, the numbers are at the bottom of the pyramid, and if your app or service is messing up at that bottom end, it is crap.
Source: Improving Facebook on Android
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