Is it possible to create a mobile app that works without the Internet?
On Oct 29, 1969, the first ARPAnet (which was later named the Internet) link was created between UCLA and SRI. Then, in Mar 1989, Tim Berners-Lee enhanced this technology and proposed for 'Mesh' (which got famous as the World Wide Web) to his management at CERN. This is how the Internet started.
And today, after half a century, the modern world has become so dependent on the Internet that it is almost impossible to think about our life without this. Especially smartphones and mobile applications have completely revolutionized human life with the power of Internet.
Thinking a technology that can work without Internet is a fascinating concept. Imagine if you could share beautiful photos from a remote location, stream your favorite songs with no data consumption, offer your company’s products & services to customers who are in a no-network zone, and many amazing things.
Facebook probably had already understood the importance of mobile applications that can offer the same services to users on the low Internet speed. Therefore, they brought a lite version of their app called ‘Facebook lite’, which hit over 1billion downloads and created a new trend in mobile apps. Later, various lite apps emerged and got famous in the market.
And interestingly in 2019, a developer, who has worked with an MIT-backed startup, developed a data-light or lite app for users that can work without depending on the network. Yes! It’s true.
Here in this blog, I will discuss how to create a lite mobile app that works without Internet, and tell you how they will benefit different industries as well as your day-to-day life.
Read this blog and you will learn:
- What is lite mobile app?
- What features make lite apps different?
- Why current lite apps need more advancement?
- How to create a mobile app that works without the Internet?
- How lite apps will benefit industries and your life?
‘Lite apps are the next generation of mobile applications’ –Alekh Verma, CEO & Founder, eSearch Logix
What is Lite Mobile App?
Lite apps are native apps which eliminate heavy features of a mobile app to minimize its size. This gives a more seamless, fast, and low-data consuming feature to users.
Lite apps appeal to a wide range of mobile devices due to lower storage capacity and ability to work under low network speed.
What features make lite apps different?
Lite apps are lightweight in size. They have only essential features which are mostly used by users, and typically take less than 1MB in memory size.
If a mobile app is less in size, its battery usage would be low. Lite apps are generally built with minimalistic app design; therefore, they enhance the battery life of smartphone.
UI (User Interface)
Images, animations, videos, and other similar contents make an app heavier in size. These design elements have a great impact on the apps' performance, size, and usage. They are designed with a simple and essential approach which only has lighter UI components instead of heavier ones.
In this way, lite apps serve as an additional version of the same app which is generally greater in size. For example, Facebook lite
Lite apps are smaller in size with a minimum and clean user interface concept. Such features enhance the app's performance and speed for end users.
Lite apps can work fine in locations with low or poor Internet connectivity in all mobile devices, whether they are 2G, 3G, or 4G compatible. This is the main feature of lite apps that they can perform even in the weak network connectivity and help users stay connected to the online world.
Why current lite apps need more advancement?
Facebook lite was first launched in 2015 in less developed markets with an aim to work on low speed wireless networks. The app being 1MB in file size contains the core features such as news feed, photos, notifications, and status updates.
The success of this app inspired many popular apps like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to bring the lite versions of their apps. And they received good response from users.
In the past few years, lite apps have managed to maintain their growth rate by providing users to utilize the features at low data consumption and slower internet speed. However, current lite apps sometimes fail to perform in no-network zone or where internet connectivity is almost zero.
Therefore, there is a high need for the advanced version of lite apps which can work well in no internet connectivity area. And the good news is, there have been successful developments in recent times which have given rise to create lite mobile apps that can work without Internet.
Latest development that shows how to create lite mobile apps that work without the Internet
Lite apps have been working in major app stores for years. In 2010, these apps were available on the iOS App Store. At that time, they were designed to function as feature-restricted versions of fully capable apps.
Lite apps emerged as a helpful tool for users on low speed networks and mobile devices which often lack memory space or battery life to load flashier and more sophisticated apps. Lite apps were evolving gradually with a nominal growth rate.
But from 2018, they got a boom.
1. Hike Messenger surprised the Industry with an app that can work on slower networks
In March 2018, Hike messenger introduced an app called ‘Hike Total’ that can reach out to users on slower mobile networks. It was an advanced version of offline apps with a minimalistic design approach.
It uses proprietary technology based on USSD protocol to carry out mobile payments, recharges, send messages, and deliver live scores and news updates without depending on Internet.
What technology helped the company to create such app?
They used USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) which is a GSM technology to send SMS from one smartphone to another- unlike the Hike messenger, which sends messages as data packets over the Internet. As USSD doesn't require an internet connection to work and relies on messaging.
Hike CEO Kavin Mittal pointed out that many users can't spend 150 INR every month on mobile data, therefore Hike and partner brought such technology that would allow money transfer without using the internet.
In this way, Hike made a big headline in mobile app industry and inspired other businesses to create more data-friendly lite apps that can offer great benefits to all users, especially for those who don't have capacity to access the Internet.
2. An African app developer grabbed the attention when he created an advanced lite app
Few years back, almost half of the countries in Africa didn't have high speed Internet connection and only 24% of people in Africa use the Internet. Additionally, 1.6 billion people in Africa still live in places where mobile broadband network (3G and 4G) are not available.
Seeing this situation, in 2019, an app developer Elvis Chidera created a lite app that could work on low speed internet connection or even without the Internet. This creation showed a new way to develop data-friendly apps.
(Data source: AppDeveloperMagazine)
How he made it possible?
He created a data-light or lite app with minimum features and smaller in size. He used image compressing tools to reduce the extra burden of media files and Proguard tool to optimize and reduce codebase.
This development approach helped him to reduce app size and create a mobile app that can work flawlessly on low network speed.
So, how to create a mobile app that works without the Internet?
1. Don't include animations or HD video
Check do you really need to add 8MB splash screen video into the app that is causing additional load. For example, you can download the video on demand when the app detects that user has a fast internet connection instead of adding the heavy splash screen video into the app.
Users who are in slow connection or no-network zone, they mostly care about accessing the core features of your app than a fancy video.
2. Reduce the App Size
If you want to build a lite app that doesn't highly depend on the Internet connection, you should consider the factors in data size. You should first begin by profiling the app to decide what the main components are and what the quickest win for your app is.
Your development team should focus on building a data-light app that either uses a lower resolution image or excludes a big feature that occupies space largely.
3. Use image compressing tools
There are many open source frameworks and tools available online which can help you reduce the app size by compressing its data. You can use image compressing tools like TinyPNG to decrease the size of image.
In case of image resizing, make sure it should be better shifted to the server. There is no need to use 5000x5000 pixel image on a device that has a very low resolution. Instead of this, you can resize images on the user device. It saves both money and the battery life.
4. Reduce the codebase
Codebase is the backbone of mobile application. Simple codebase helps in creating small size apps. A tool like Proguard specifically for Android can help you to optimize and reduce codebases. You can also split your app resources based on device features and distribute them separately in the app.
In Android, it can be easily done by using ABI splits or App Bundles. You can use a lint tool to analyze your project and find unused code or resources. This process will allow you to know how much data you can save.
5. A lite app is not only about pre-install development
Many app owners often focus on pre-install development approach which means creating a data-light app without caring its future sustainability. The post-installation experience is equally important; to make sure your app shouldn't be data hungry.
Whatever data are exchanged between the app and backend system should be heavily compressed.
For example, the development team at Facebook uses LZMA2 compression for their Facebook lite app due to its compression ratio and less resource usage on the device while decompressing.
How lite apps are different than offline apps?
Offline apps also allow users to access or use the app without Internet connection. You can use its features when network is lost or data speed is slow. Famous apps that make you work offline:
- Google Drive
- Google Maps
But offline apps can’t connect to other apps, or different online services that need internet connection. Offline apps provide resources to end user personally, not other online features such as sharing files, browsing, messaging, chatting, calling, etc.
However, lite apps allow users to send messages, live chat, stream music, and share content without internet accessibility or low speed connection.
How lite apps will benefit industries and change user experience?
Whenever you develop a mobile app, two key factors come to mind: accessibility and usability. The more users have access to your app, the more likely they will tend to use it.
And lite apps give the highest accessibility and usability at all internet speeds. Therefore, lite apps have great potential to transform the market and offer unique app experience to users.
Let's look at the major benefits of lite apps that will shape the future of mobile apps.
1. Lite apps will save older smartphones
Every day you see companies launching new smartphones which offer better features than their older versions. This competition is somewhere neglecting the users who prefer to go with simple smartphones, or those people who just want to remain classy instead of chasing every fancy mobile phone.
Lite apps here will save older versions of smartphones which are either out-of-date or not used due to its simple features. Lite apps are meant for every mobile device. No matter it is a basic Android smartphone or a premium iPhone.
With frequent updates in social media apps, users need more storage and data accessibility, therefore they move to buy new smartphones. According to Statista, people tend to stay with their devices for two years on average.
As lite apps are smaller in size and use very low data consumption, it can survive long on a mobile device.
Some people count every megabyte (MB) of internal storage and RAM on their smartphones. And lite apps can be a boon for such users.
2. Lite apps are battery life savers
A survey conducted by Fluent LLC shows that battery life is one of the most important.
No matter how bigger brand is, Samsung, LG, Google, or Apple, users want their device to remain alive for as long as possible. Lite apps provide better power efficiency; users are more likely to welcome such apps.
3. Lite apps will be a game changer for limited data plans
Not everyone has a 4G smartphone. Reports tell that almost half of mobile internet connections are still on slow 2G network. There are many remote locations in developing countries where Internet is still a big thing.
As 5G has already arrived, internet dependability will increase more. In this scenario, lite apps will help those people who don't have accessibility to high internet speed or network. Especially in remote areas, lite apps can bring a drastic change by connecting more people to the digital world.
4. Big bands have started entering this market
Facebook was among the first to address the rising demand for data-light apps which use fewer data and works under slower network conditions. Therefore, they launched Facebook Lite to maximize the reach to their app in developing nations where network connection is low.
This gave a boost to lite mobile app development. Many iconic brands released the lite versions of apps. For example, Korean app Line launched Line Lite, Google introduced YouTube Go, Google Go, and Microsoft Skype Lite, and many more.
Today in 2021, Play store is buzzing with lite apps. Here are some famous lite apps:
Google maps Go
Amazon Kindle Lite
That is why businesses that are looking to create something big with a small resource, data-light apps can make their vision possible.
5. Travel industry will go to the next level
Suppose you are going through a hill station and you get inspired to share a beautiful picture on social media. But unfortunately, due to lack of Internet availability, you couldn't share your happiness with your friends on social media platforms.
Here lite apps can give a great solution in the future. It can allow people to stay connected with their friends online in every location no matter how fast or slow a network works.
6. Lite Games like PUBG Mobile Lite will be a trend
The lite versions occupy up to 10 times less space, making it easier for mobile devices with lower configuration. Considering this, the sensational game PUBG brought its lighter version called PUBG Mobile Lite, which can be played on lower graphics and small space requirements.
This boosted the importance of lite apps and motivated developers to consider lite games with low 3D graphics.
7. Healthcare Industry will gain more advantage
The ability to work without Internet makes lite apps highly useful and helpful. By creating lite versions of healthcare apps, it will enable medical professionals to stay in touch with patients in case of emergency when internet is sometimes lost or banned.
8. Music Industry will make the most of it
Do you know what helped Spotify become world-famous music application? It is not only because of providing access to a large library of songs for every taste but also allowing users listen to their favorite tracks even in the absence of Internet.
Spotify when launched its Spotify Lite version, it gains huge popularity and witnessed growth in app downloads. They offered a lite app that gives the same features no matter users have access to the Internet or not.
This special feature made Spotify become best offline music app. It shows lite apps will create great business opportunities in the future.
Ultimately, lite apps are growing amazingly and will play a big role in the upcoming time. Companies can boost the popularity of their mobile applications across all markets by offering a lite version app.
There are still billions of people in the world who don't have internet access due to lack of a high-bandwidth network connection. Creating a lite mobile app can truly change billions of lives and connect more people through mobile apps.
Now, it's your turn.
Do you want to boost your mobile application with the power of lite apps? Or want to upgrade your existing app with lite features? Just drop your query to eSearch Logix and get a free consultation.