Facebook Instant Videos preloads clips on your Android phone

Facebook is testing a new feature called Instant Videos that preloads videos while your phone is connected to Wi-Fi so that they’re lined up and ready to play when you’re scrolling.

We’ve all been in that situation where your data connection isn’t brilliant, there’s a video on your News Feed that you really want to watch, the first couple of seconds start up and then the buffering begins. And it buffers. And buffers. Oh how it buffers.

Now it looks like Facebook is working on a solution to this problem with a test of a new feature called Instant Videos. At present it looks the test is exclusively for Android phones and is limited to a small pool of users. 

The feature was discovered by a user called Devesh Logendran and shared with The Next Web’s Matt Navarra who tweeted this screenshot:

Wi-Fi wait for the video to buffer?

Users will see videos with a small lightning bolt on them, indicating that the video is downloaded and ready to play. TechCrunch has since had confirmation from Facebook that the purpose of this test is to remove the burden of data costs on users watching videos. 

Of course, with the recent addition of the Watch tab, the amount of videos that Facebook hopes its users are going to be watching on the platform are about to skyrocket, so investigating methods for safeguarding its users' data usage makes sense. 

It’s interesting that the test is exclusively for Android users; we have reached out for Facebook for comment on why this is, but we feel it could be something to do with regions, as the general trend is that regions with greater Android adoption correlates with regions with more patchy data reception. 

Facebook already has ‘Lite’ versions of its main app and of Messenger that strips away some of the more complex layers of those apps so that users with less-than-punchy data reception can still enjoy Facebook’s services.

At present there’s no information on the test becoming global, but we have contacted Facebook for comment and will let you know as soon as we hear back.  

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.