Two reasons why Google, Meta, and others are killing lightweight apps

Source: Pocketnow

Many companies, including Google itself, launched “Go” and “Lite” branded applications of their main services and apps to provide lightweight software for smartphones that didn’t have as much power and high-end components. The Go and Lite branded apps were aimed at low-end devices. They especially targeted developing countries where the internet was still relatively new, and not as widely accessible as it is today.

In a blog post, Google announced that it will shut down YouTuge Go in August. The post recommends users switch over to the official YouTube app, claiming that it provides a “better overall user experience as well as offers features that aren’t available in the youTube Go” app.


YouTube Go launched in 2016, and it was designed to provide easy access on slower internet connections, and it was primarily targeting low-end devices to provide an equally great experience as the desktop or primary YouTube application. Google also promises that it will build “additional user controls that help to decrease mobile data usage for viewers with limited data.”

Expect more Go and Lite apps to be sunsetted

Google also recently shut down the Chrome Lite mode feature, which allowed users to save internet in a world where data was expensive. The Google Chrome Lite feature became redundant over the years as the 4G, and now 5G data plans become more affordable and widely available in developed regions. Google found that it wasn’t being used by most users, and if it was, it didn’t provide the benefits that it once did.

Google Chrome Lite Mode saver Source: Pocketnow

Facebook also killed off its slimmed-down Facebook Lite application (via MacRumors), which allowed users to access the social media giant even on 2G networks and in rural areas with bad connections. The application was barebones, and it offered most of the essential features of the main app. The Facebook Lite app launched in 2018 alongside Messenger Lite, and Facebook Lite shut it down in 2020. The Messenger Lite application, on the other hand, is still popular and actively maintained today by Meta, the parent company of Facebook.

1, Smartphones are getting smarter

Nokia C21
Nokia C21
Source: Nokia

Back in 2015 and 2016, most low and medium-range smartphones had anywhere between 1-3GB of RAM, and some even launched with 512MB. The Nokia 1 launched in 2018, and it had just 1GB of RAM, 8GB of eMMC 5.0 storage, a 4.5-inch IPS LCD, 480 x 854 display, and it was powered by Android Go (8.1 Oreo). It was everything but a powerhouse, and it greatly benefitted from lightweight applications due to the small amount of memory and storage, not to mention the quad-core MediaTek 1.1GHz chipset.

Fast forward a few years, and the Nokia 1.4 is an excellent bargain for around $120. However, the competition has many great devices below the $200 mark, such as the TCL 20 SE, OnePlus Nord N200 5G, Samsung Galaxy A13, and many more. Most of these devices have at least 3-6GB of memory, depending on the model you pick, and most of these are also running the full-fledged version of Android.

Smartphone hardware has dramatically improved in recent years. Even low-end devices are getting performance updates that make them a more viable option for multitasking and even some light gaming. The mid-range category has also greatly improved, and we now also have a premium mid-range category, which includes smartphones with high-end flagship features at a lower, more affordable price tag.

The entire market is saturated with these new, powerful devices, and therefore the need to have lightweight and efficient software is now redundant to the point where it no longer makes sense for large companies to maintain them.

2, Software & OS enhancements

OnePlus Nord N200 5G back panel
OnePlus Nord N200 5G
Source: Pocketnow

In the first part, we mentioned the hardware, but the software is equally just as important. You can have the world’s fastest chipset in a phone, but it’ll struggle to multitask with applications and work efficiently if the software isn’t optimized.

Android has received several performance improvements over the years, and it’s gotten so smooth and optimized that it can run on low-grade hardware just as fine as on flagship-level components. Applications have also received several updates over the years, and the APIs and new tools have been developed to focus on optimization and efficiency.

We also have 90Hz, 120Hz, and even higher refresh rates. A lot of mid-range devices are now equipped with high refresh rate displays, making the phone experience slightly more enjoyable and up to date. Popular applications such as YouTube, Facebook, and many others also have built-in Go and Lite features and other functionality. As a result of these advancements in the software field, apps have become more efficient when used on slow internet, hardware and connections.

In a world where smartphones are continuing to become more optimized, efficient, and powerful, there is no longer a strong demand to have dedicated applications that do less, and perform better. Internet prices are more affordable than ever before, and while the speed is still not as fast as most of us expected, it’s stable and good enough to scroll on Instagram for hours.

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