Facebook appears to be in the testing phases of a new feature aimed at helping those with limited data plans stay within those limits, while still providing access to video content. That’s according to a tweet from Matt Navarra, citing another user who recently saw a feature called “Instant Videos” crop up in their feed on the social networking site. Whether or not testing shows the feature to be successful or make it to the main bulk of Facebook users remains to be seen, but it is probably something heavy users of the mobile app on Android will want to watch for.
As of this writing, Instant Videos still appears to be an Android exclusive, but how it appears to work is relatively straight forward. While a user is on Wi-Fi or unmetered connections, Facebook will automatically download or save offline copies of videos appearing in a user’s feed without any action taken by the user themselves. That way, when users are out and about, they can access those videos without having to stream or cache the video over mobile data. Anybody with access to the beta feature will notice videos in their stream with a lightning bolt symbol overlayed on top. The first time they see such a video, it looks as though they’ll also be greeted with a message – as shown in the screenshot below – introducing them to Instant Videos with a message that explains how it works.
The Instant Videos feature won’t likely save all of that data users are burning through with Facebook running in the background. It also probably won’t save users all of the battery life Facebook can eat up but the new feature should, if it goes live for all users, help shore up some of those leaks, at the very least. It should also be said that Facebook has been making efforts to limit its application’s impact on users’ devices over the past several months and as early as last year, as well as focusing more on its efforts to benefit users in other ways. So it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Instant Videos hit every user in the near future.