Instagram for Android update is smaller, runs faster, better designed for low end devices


posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 2:22 PM EDT


Instagram has just updated its Android app to version 5.1. There are no new features, no tweaked filters, and it seems almost unchanged. But in some ways, what Instagram has done is even more important than that—the Android version has been overhauled to run faster, take up less space, and work better on low-end devices. Which is a big deal if you live somewhere where a high-end smartphone is prohibitively expensive.

Instagram was facing the challenge where the majority of its users lived outside of the United States, and in many of those countries, very few people own high-end flagship phones. As explained at the Verge, countries like Brazil, which has a huge number of Instagram users, rely on lower-end smartphones. Like the Samsung Galaxy Y, which has a low resolution display, but is massively popular.

Rather than relying solely on Android's native scaling abilities, Instagram simplified the visuals to work better in low-res screens, and tested it on a large number of devices that aren't in the USA. The company also halved the app's size to boost its speed on phones with lower-end processors, and doubled how fast user profiles load. The company claims it even boots 20% faster on some devices, and the smaller size means you don't have to worry about data download limits when installing it.

As Instagram explains in a blog post:

These changes mean a faster, more responsive app. Your profile screen now loads twice as fast, and we’ve cut the overall app size in half to increase speed throughout Instagram.

By making our design cleaner, we’ve also made Instagram for Android easier to use. We’ve simplified our visuals throughout our app, making use of valuable screen space for small devices and feature phones and rearranging our design to keep buttons within easy reach as you navigate the app on a larger device.

If you're using the newest, shiniest device from Samsung, HTC, or Motorola, you're probably not much going to notice the difference. But if you're using an older device, or one without much in the way of specs, the updated version could give you a major speed boost—which will be a boon for millions of users worldwide.