Everyone has their favourite apps, the ones that are first on the list when you're pimping out your new phone. And for most of us, there are some stalwarts that just never leave that must have list. Apps like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, the big names that we all know and love, have become indispensable to many. But we're seeing more and more Lite app versions coming out, particularly of top name big apps. What are these? What's the point? Are they worth it? We're taking a look at the new trend for Lite apps to see if you should be replacing your old faves with something new.
What is a Lite App?
Okay, before we get started, we have a little explaining to do. Lite apps have actually been around for a long time, as anyone who's visited an app store knows. However, traditionally, Lite apps have been free, smaller versions of paid apps. So maybe three or four free levels from a top selling paid gaming app, for example, designed to lure you in and persuade you to buy the real deal big version of the app.
What we've been seeing recently is a new Lite app version. Big names like Facebook, Skype and Twitter have been releasing Lite versions of their apps, and since even their regular apps aren't paid, you might be a little confused about why these Lite versions are necessary. But these Lite versions are a different concept. They're not ads for paid apps, instead they're smaller apps, designed to use less space on your phone, and less bandwidth when connecting online.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Lite Apps?
The main benefit of these Lite apps is that they take up less space on your mobile. They often come in at under 1 MB of storage space, which is minuscule when compared to the size of the regular app versions. So if you're running low on space, or you have an older model of phone, a Lite app is probably going to be a good bet for you.
Alongside this, many of these apps are designed to use less bandwidth. That means you get a better, steadier internet connection through them, and might even use less data from your data plan, which has to be a good thing, right?
That's not to say that Lite apps are without their downsides though. And there are a couple of things that you should be concerned about. Firstly, you are going to miss some features. Lite apps do not have all the features of the main apps, though all will do their intended job, of course. For example, Twitter Lite doesn't allow autoplaying of videos, nor do you get the Moments feature.
Secondly, you may experience a little lag with these apps. Many (though not all) Lite apps are what we call “web wraps.” This means that really you're using the app on the web, but the Lite app transports that web information into the little app shortcut you have on your phone. This can mean a delay in between you getting a notification and then actually receiving it, though that delay is mininimal.
So Should I Download One?
That decision is really up to you, and may also depend on the app in question (we'll get to a few options in a second). As a general rule, if you have an older phone, you're lacking in storage space, or you often have internet connectivity or speed problems, then a Lite app is worth a try, since you might end up with better service.
If you're a big user of the app, say you Tweet many times a day, then a Lite app probably isn't going to do you any favours. You'll miss out on getting notifications quickly, and you'll probably get frustrated at the features that you're missing.
Since many of these apps are web wraps anyway, you'd be better served by simply opening your web browser and navigating to the app you want there. You'll get the full app experience through your browser, and you won't use any phone storage space at all. Of course, you also won't get notifications, though most apps allow you to get email notifications instead, which could work. Nor will you get the convenience of just clicking on an app icon, which could be a dealbreaker for some.
Bottom line? Lite apps are good compromises, but they're not for everyone. You're going to need to download a Lite version and see for yourself whether it's going to work out for you.
What Are My Lite Options?
Lite options are becoming ever more popular. After constant complaints about the amount of memory it takes up on phones, Facebook have produced both Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite. Both of these are basic, but work very well. You'll get your timeline, can update statuses, and can send messages to other users, which is all most people are using most of the time through an app. And you also save a huge amount of storage, making these two worthy downloads.
Twitter Lite is missing out on quite a few features, as we mentioned above, but for casual use should be just fine. Skype Lite is larger than a lot of Lite apps at 13 MB, but it's designed for use with even a 2G connection, so connectivity is a lot better than with the regular version, so less dropped calls. However, it's currently only available in India (though should be released elsewhere soon).
Finally, Shazam Lite is probably the best of the bunch, since it makes the user experience arguably better even than the full version. Shazam Lite does its job and nothing more. It will identify the song, artist, and album that you're listening to, but you won't get pictures, pages full of recommendations, lyrics, or anything else. It's clean and simple, which is a good thing.
For casual app users Lite apps are a pretty good download. Anything that saves space and gets lower bandwidth usage is a good thing. More serious users are going to baulk at the lack of features though, making the real deal the only option for them.