80% of Instagram’s users 600 million users are outside the US, so it needed a way to provide a better experience for users with limited network connectivity or no data plan.
Today at F8, Instagram announced it’s built support for using most of its features without Internet access. Much of this functionality is now available on Android, which is the preferred device type in the developing world. More will come in the following months, and Instagram tells me its exploring an iOS version.
Instagram engineer Hendri says offline users will be able to see content previously loaded in Instagram’s feed. People can leave comments, Like things, save media, or unfollow people — all of which will go through when they reconnect. Profiles they’ve visited before will be visible, as will old versions of the Explore tab or their own profile.
The engineering gymnastics required to do this could help Instagram grow in developing nations where data is either too expensive for everyone to afford, or there aren’t omnipresent or stable data connections. Facebook’s developing world app Facebook Lite shot to 200 million users in just a year, proving the big opportunity Instagram could seize by allowing users to enjoys the app even in isolation. While Snapchat seems to have forgotten about the developing world, Instagram knows everyone everywhere wants visual communication.