Uber is introducing a trimmed down version of its app for emerging markets. The company announced Tuesday that the new app, Uber Lite, will come to Android phones, starting in India.
Uber Lite will launch in Jaipur, Hyderabad and Delhi, with more locations planned in the future.
The Uber Lite app will let users hail cabs just like the current app. The new app, however, removes some of the regular app’s niceties that add heft to the app like fancy graphics and a built-in map (the map is now optional). Stripping the app of big features brings Uber Lite to less than 5MB.
The company promises that even places with slower data speeds will see a 300-millisecond response time to cab requests. Even when riders are offline, the in-app search will surface that city’s top locations.
Uber’s decision to offer a basic version of its app for emerging markets is a smart move for a company that wants to reach the rest of the world with its product. Similarly, companies like Facebook have brought us Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite for similar markets. Applications like Google’s YouTube Go is not only smaller than the regular app, but also lets users choose video quality before playing a clip for places where carriers’ data limits are strict.
The company’s announcement of Uber Lite on Android made no mention of versions on any other phones. While the iPhone is popular in the United States, worldwide numbers show that most smartphones in the world run Android. With a usage rate of 85.9% worldwide, Uber can focus less on making sure the app works on all smartphone platforms and more on making the app as nimble as possible.
Uber’s Lite app has the potential to win the company many new customers in some of the world’s largest markets, even if those markets contain users with spotty cell service on older smartphones.