Uber has launched a new app for developing markets where it is present around the world, called Uber Lite. The new app is designed for use in markets such as India where data connectivity is still spotty and most people don’t have access to a lot of internet bandwidth.
With a download size of just 5MB, the app is optimized to work well on low-speed connections and budget devices that often don’t have enough on-board storage to handle the larger app sizes and frequent chunky update packages. It’s a huge difference as compared to the full-fledged Uber app, which on Android weighs in at around 180MB. With this, Uber is following in the footsteps of Google and Facebook, both of which have launched ‘lite’ versions of their key apps in India.
Notably, the app is only coming to Android, considering that iOS devices are typically premium and those users are implied to have access to better internet. While the full-fledged app will continue to work even on Android, this will come as an addition and is meant for users on basic smartphones and in low-connectivity areas. The app itself is optimized with one major change – maps are optional in the app, and you can choose to do away with the map display entirely.
Key features such as sharing trip details remain, but the app relies on some guesswork to allow you to feed in destinations and pick-up locations quickly. Uber Lite also caches key locations in the city, so that they can be retrieved without any data usage. A lot of this sounds a bit too ‘predictive’, so whether the app will work as well as the full-fledged app is anyone’s guess.
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The app is oddly late to launch, considering Uber’s main rival in India Ola has had a ‘lite’ app in place since early 2018. Uber and Ola have a fierce rivalry going on in the Indian market, which also happens to be Uber’s last significant market in Asia after its operations in other parts of the continent have been wrapped up through acquisitions.