Facebook has made it clear that it sees video as the future. It is now following YouTube by offering an offline feature that will enable users to download some videos and watch them later. The feature is being tested on a small percentage of users in India from July 11, and is expected to help videos reach users in countries with slow Internet speeds and costly data.
Facebook will give users an option to download videos on their Facebook, while they’re connected to a “good” Internet connection, to watch later at any time, without incurring extra data costs even if they’re offline. Only original videos posted by personal Facebook accounts or Pages can be downloaded. No ads or sponsored video content will be impacted by the feature. Instead of a blog post, Facebook announced the feature in an email sent to select publishers.
The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody’s guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what company’s like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes.
As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.
“In markets like India, mobile data and connectivity are limited, which can leave people with poor video experience or no streaming ability at all,” Facebook wrote in the email. “We want to make the video experience on Facebook great for people in all part of the world.”
The email said that the test was supposed to be conducted in India, one of the markets where connectivity is a real issue, and also that publishers will have the ability to opt out of this trial. Facebook has been adapting to users in countries with costly data rates and slow Internet speeds. It launched the stripped-down version of the social network app called Facebook Lite in 2015, which is now growing faster than the Facebook app. In March, it also became the fastest Facebook interface to hit the 100 million monthly active users mark.
Earlier since 2014, YouTube also allows users to download videos for offline viewing. However, users are required to re-sync the app in every 48 hours for it to verify that the video is not taken down by the uploader or the website. It will be interesting to see if Facebook also applies some restrictions to the downloading like YouTube did with its feature.