Facebook is rolling out a way for mobile users with slow internet connections to still view content in their News Feed.
The tech giant announced that an update to its app that will push previously downloaded and unread content to the top of a user’s News Feed if their connection is unable to load more recent news.
Essentially this means that cached content will immediately appear for a user with a slow connection when they open the app, rather than being greeted by a ‘loading spinner’ which in some cases can take minutes to fetch data – or not connect at all.
Facebook will look at all previously downloaded stories present on a user’s phone that have not yet viewed, and rank them based on their relevance. The company said: “When we receive new stories from the server when you’re back online, we load and rank those stories normally.”
The company also said that it is testing improvements to keep these stories up to date throughout the day by periodically retrieving new stories when users have a good connection – ensuring that stories users see when they open the Facebook app are as relevant and current as possible.
The move comes as Facebook’s popularity surges in emerging markets. Many users in those areas have slow mobile connections. The update is part of the an effort to ensure that a slow mobile connection doesn’t hinder a user’s experience on the Facebook app.
Facebook product and engineering managers Chris Marra and Alex Sourov wrote in a blog post:
“Our mission with News Feed is to connect people with the stories that matter most to them, but if people’s News Feeds aren’t loading because of poor internet connections, we can’t show them the most relevant stories. People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets, and in most cases they’re doing so on mobile via 2G connections.
“To improve News Feed so it works seamlessly and quickly for people in all parts of the world, we’re focused on designing it to operate well regardless of device or network connection.”
Earlier this year Facebook rolled out a lightweight version of its full app called Facebook Lite.
The app was released in eight countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.