A big part of Facebook these days is video. An increased focus on video and video ads has left some users in the dust; namely, users in areas with low internet speeds and intermittent connections, mostly in developing markets. On Thursday, Facebook quietly announced a new option to cater to these people, by including word of it and a few small details in the tail end of a mass email to media outlets. The feature allows users to sync videos to their devices when they’re on a good connection, then watch them at any time, essentially allowing people in poorly connected areas to participate just as a fully in the Facebook festivities as those in close range of a reliable tower or two.
The sync feature saves videos in a special format and in a specific location on the device, making them inaccessible by any app except the official Facebook app. The email did not mention, however, when these videos may leave a user’s device. While a rooted phone with the right apps could likely extract that data and get a more universal copy of the video, most users on most devices will be unable to use the video anywhere except within the Facebook app. While videos from all publishers, friend and professional alike, will sync to a user’s device by default when conditions are right, users can disable the feature, and video providers can opt out of the feature.
Since the feature is aimed at developing markets, it only makes sense for it to hit the biggest one first, being India. A small-scale test will begin on July 11, where a very small number of randomly chosen users will gain access to the feature in some parts of India. Should the feature prove successful, it will end up rolling out throughout India and into other parts of the globe. The email did not state, however, if the feature will eventually be available throughout the globe, giving much-needed data savings to customers in developed markets. Most Facebook features of this nature do see a worldwide rollout, but this particular feature is built with emerging markets in mind.