I've been an iPhone loyalist ever since I got my first one in college, but even my iOS-using self is super excited about the latest Uber news for Android users. The ride-share app recently pared down the amount of storage it takes up on users' phones, and it's totally changing the game. So, what is Uber Lite?
In a Tuesday, June 12 release announcing the new Uber Lite app, Shirish Andhare, Head of Product for Emerging Markets at Uber, described it as an app that was "built in India, designed for the world." Essentially, Uber Lite is meant to use less data and work more efficiently in areas of the world that encounter network connectivity issues. Uber Lite works on any network (even 2G), and only requires 5MB to download it. This means users can free up enough space for it by deleting just three photos from their phone.
Uber Lite officially launched today in India, and the Android app includes the essentials that provide for safe, quick rides. Uber also ensured that the lighter version of the app doesn't sacrifice function. Per the release, Uber Lite users can book a ride in "the blink of an eye," thanks to the 300-millisecond response time (even in poor network conditions). That's good news, because nothing puts a damper on your day like waiting forever to hail a ride.
Uber streamlined the app in order to make it function better with less data and in areas with poor network connectivity, but the company kept the most important safety features that give riders peace of mind. Uber Lite still has in-app support, and users can share their trip with friends and family so they're not sacrificing safety for coveted phone storage.
Uber took measures in other reimagined parts of the app to cut down on the storage space needed and data used for Uber Lite. I'm self-diagnosed with an Instagram addiction, so anything that helps me chill on the data usage is music to my ears.
Again, the Uber Lite app is currently only available for Android users in India, but these newly designed features will keep them rolling in data while still catching all the Uber rides they need.
You might wonder how Uber Lite users can get a satisfactory experience with a "lighter" app, and it's thanks to the redesigned main functions of the app that users will be able to get everything they need from Uber Lite without killing their data plan or waiting forever to load the app.
For example, Uber Lite users will do more tapping than typing when they open up the app for a ride. When users hail a ride with Uber Lite, they'll use the "guided pickups" that detects their current location, and if the GPS or network connection is poor, then the app will populate pickup points nearby where the rider is located. The same goes for choosing an Uber Lite destination, because the app stores popular city spots and learns riders' own popular destinations, so they won't have to type as often.
Uber Lite users will also have the option to not view a map in order save themselves from using up all their phone data. Opting out of the map function keeps the app "light and fast," but users can access the full map with a tap on the screen if they want it. Uber also shared in the release that there are future plans for a "progress bar" that will allow users to "follow the driver’s progress" without loading a map.
Basically, Uber Lite is everything you need from the app to ensure you have a smooth experience, but it won't slow down your phone or wreck your data plan after using it to take a ride or two. The app launched in India today, but Uber has plans to roll out Uber Lite to more countries with similar network conditions later in 2018.
Creating pared down versions of popular apps for areas in the world with poor network conditions seems to be a priority for companies right now. Facebook recently launched its Facebook Lite app in the United States back in March 2018. It was a wider roll out of the original Facebook Lite app that debuted in 2015 in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
Reimagined apps that work efficiently and effectively in places with poor network conditions are welcome additions to the tech world. TBH, anything that keeps someone from wrecking their data plan with overages is always appreciated. Here's to hoping Uber Lite crosses over to the iOS side soon.