Artificial Intelligence

Facebook expands preinstall partnerships

By Francisco Varela
September 5, 2019

Every month, more than 2 billion people around the world use the Facebook family of apps. It’s important to us to provide everyone — regardless of where they are in the world — the same access to the best versions of our apps. This can be challenging in regions where download speeds are slow or data access is limited. We work with partners to preinstall our apps both to mitigate these challenges and to help people get the most up-to-date version of our apps. As new mobile platforms emerge, it’s also important to provide the version that’s optimized for their specific device. 

When this effort is fully implemented, anyone with a new KaiOS smart feature phone will be able to use the latest versions of Facebook and WhatsApp.
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Last year, we began preinstalling Facebook and WhatsApp on the new KaiOS-powered mobile devices in India. Thanks to these preinstalled apps, tens of millions of people in India can now access these services for the first time. We recently announced our expanded partnership with KaiOS to provide both WhatsApp and Facebook on KaiOS-enabled phones globally to keep those apps current through regular upgrades. When this effort is fully implemented, anyone with a new KaiOS smart feature phone (including models from our operator partners MTN Group and Orange in Africa) will be able to use the latest versions of Facebook and WhatsApp.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” says WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable, and secure way.” 

Tens of millions of people in India have access to Facebook and WhatsApp for the first time.

Why we preinstall our apps

Smartphones come with preinstalled apps for web browsing, messaging, email, video, photos, music, and other popular experiences and features. We work with partners who preinstall to ensure that people get the best version of our apps for their device. These preinstalled user apps function just like versions available in app stores. 

Working with partners on preinstall programs helps us improve the compatibility of our apps with each device model. Differences in screen resolution, processors, available memory, and new technical innovations can affect app performance and user experience. Optimizing apps for the device they’ll run on means the apps will run faster and be less likely to crash. For example, on devices with less memory, we recommend Facebook Lite. 

In addition to providing benefits for people on new devices, our program also aims to ensure that our apps continue to work well on devices over time. On KaiOS, our apps are server-based so that most new features and improvements can be delivered to devices quickly. On Android phones, we support delivering notifications and app updates for our apps through preinstalled system apps. These system apps (Facebook App Manager, Facebook App Installer, and Facebook Services) improve the security and user experience of Facebook apps for the life of the device.

Preinstalled apps can be especially helpful for those who are new to the internet or who live in areas that have limited connectivity, such as emerging markets. Due to constrained disk space, high data costs, and limited data access, people in emerging markets aren’t always able to keep their apps updated to the most current version. As a result, the apps people use are sometimes more than a year old and may be missing important performance, stability, and security improvements — or the best and latest mobile features, like video chat. In Burundi and Rwanda, up to 50 percent of devices are running Facebook Android apps that are more than a year out of date. 

In emerging markets, up to 50 percent of devices are running out-of-date apps. Source: Facebook app for Android as of August 21, 2019.

Working with device makers and mobile operators to optimize our apps so they work seamlessly out of the box and stay up to date is currently the best way for us to ensure that as many people as possible have access to the same experiences. We will continue working with new devices and platforms as they develop and look forward to continued collaboration with our partners.

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