Lots of the go-to apps we use on our smartphones are starting to get a bit out of hand in terms of their resource consumption. In many cases even midrange devices can’t handle the ballooning suck on memory. Hence the proliferation of Lite apps (both official and unofficial) these days, all of them set up to offer the same main features as their original counterparts but massively reducing RAM use and the space taken up on the device. Here are some of the most popular and efficient ones available (plus a tool to create your own lite apps as a bonus).
The mother of all the “skinny” apps that led the way in spurring users to look for alternatives that suit their device capacity a bit better. Initially developed as a slimmer version for developing countries, Facebook Lite is an official app based on the web client that lets you browse the famed social network without missing out on practically any of the basic features. And considering the monstrous resource drain wrought by the original app, it’s a real relief that this option exists. [Download]
Obviously this isn’t the only option: SlimSocial for Facebook is another possible alternative that’s also based on the web client. In this blog post we’ve collected a bunch of the rest of the best, too.
With Facebook Lite being such a big hit, it almost seemed like an obligation to slim down the social network’s IM client, which has also become exaggeratedly inflated as it adds ever more features. Messenger Lite came out in October 2016, and cut the 100+ MB eaten up by the official client in half. The cool thing about this is that it does all the same things and can run on devices with Android 2.3 or higher. Even a Casio watch could handle it. [Download]
SlimSocial for Twitter (and Twitter Lite)
Twitter is also getting quite unwieldy for a lot of devices. Yours Truly, for instance, had a helluva time updating a timeline on an old Nexus 4 and had to find a skinnier option. Once again, the solution here involves using an alternative app (in this case unofficial) that takes a webview of the client as its base. Of all the options available, SlimSocial is one of the fastest and most functional, though if you’re looking for something a bit more elegant, there’s the fantastic Twidere that can be customized into a near-copy of the original. [Download]
Twitter has joined the other social network apps in developing a compressed version that optimizes data use for the benefit of Android smartphones running low on space, as this app weighs less that 0.5 MB, compared to the 35 MB in the standard version of the app with the blue bird. [Download]
The careers-focused social network has been one of the latest to offer an official Lite version that drastically cuts down on how much space it takes up (from 70MB to less than 1MB), not to mention using way less data and resources without losing practically any of the basic features from the standard app. [Download]
The skinny browser par excellence. A quick look at the stats of the top four Android browsers reveals that at minimum they eat up more than 70MB of RAM and another 80MB of memory, not to even mention the cache. Opera Mini puts them all to shame with its minuscule resource consumption and integrated tools to save on data and optimize page loading. A proper Energizer bunny in terms of compatibility with current web standards. [Download]
If you’re looking for Lite apps in the first place it’s probably because your hardware is a bit old-school and your device has gotten hung up on the latest versions of Android. If you don’t want your phone to look old-school too you’ve got no other choice but to use a launcher – but in many cases they slow down your already-slow navigation around your phone interface. Smart Launcher 3 is a nice-looking browser that’s not based on AOSP, with a Material Design aesthetic and very reasonable resource consumption. [Download]
Could it be true: the mastodon that is the Skype app has been squashed into less than 15MB? It appears so. The latest bun out of the Lite apps oven is Skype’s official Lite client, which also lets you chat and make video calls over an app designed for devices running skimpy 2G connections. Still, anybody can use it to save a good chunk of both RAM and memory space. [Download]
Hermit (Create your own!)
The five apps above are just a smattering of everything you can find, with the common denominator in most cases being that they use web clients instead of native apps to cut down on resource drain. This was the idea behind Hermit, a free app that lets you create webviews for tons of different apps and get Lite versions of stuff like Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, or Reddit. Find more info and a small tutorial on this blog post we made on the subject a while ago. [Download]