This Is How Facebook Is Working to Improve Experience on Slower Connections

By Justin Lafferty Comment

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Facebook may work pretty well if you’re on WiFi on your iPhone, but for many Facebook users around the globe, that’s not their situation.

In recent years, Facebook has paid close attention to its user experience on 2G and other slow connections. In a blog post Wednesday, Facebook outlined how it is trying to build out the world’s largest social network, while still keeping emerging markets in mind.

Facebook is working on ways to allow people to compose comments when they’re offline and browse News Feed on poor connections.

Facebook’s Chris Marra and Alex Sourov wrote a blog post, detailing how Facebook can still load and avoid the ghost when the connection is spotty:

In the past, if you were on a poor Internet connection or had no connection, you might need to wait for stories to load when you opened News Feed. We are now testing an update in which we look at all the previously downloaded stories present on your phone that you have not yet viewed, and rank them based on their relevance. We also factor in whether the images for the story are available. This way we can immediately display relevant stories you haven’t seen yet, instead of showing a spinner while you wait for new stories. When we receive new stories from the server when you’re back online, we load and rank those stories normally.

We rank relevant, already downloaded stories upon startup of the app, when you navigate to News Feed from the app or pull down to refresh stories at the top of your feed, or as you are scrolling through your News Feed.

Facebook is also testing the ability to write comments while offline. The comments will be officially sent once the user is connected sufficiently:

You can now also comment on stories you see when you don’t have an Internet connection. While the ability to like and share posts when you’re offline has been available for some time, now you can comment on posts and the comment will be posted whenever you next have a connection.

For example, if you see a post about a friend’s engagement when you’re not connected to the Internet, you can compose a congratulatory comment, and it will appear on his or her post when you’re back online.

These changes will help anyone who is on a poor Internet connection—even those whose network connectivity is generally good but who have intermittent connections in places like subways and tunnels, or at large events. None of these changes affect News Feed ranking.

Readers: How else could Facebook enhance the experience for those on a slow connection?