Facebook has rolled out Instant Articles to Android users in India, with five publishers. In order to launch it in India, Facebook, which had restricted the feature to iOS devices in the US and Western Europe, has partnered with five Indian publishers - The Hindustan Times, The Quint, India Today, Aaj Tak, and The Indian Express.
A statement by The Indian Express says that the 3.3 million followers of The Indian Express Facebook page will now see multimedia-rich posts which have been optimised for mobile users, and which open in an instant even on 2G networks.
India is the third region after the US and Western Europe to get Instant Articles and is the first country where Android users will be able access this content. So far, the tool was limited to iOS users. According to Facebook executives, the tool brings forth its commitment to the region. Moreover, given the inconsistent internet infrastructure and connectivity issues in India, Instant Articles is a natural fit here. While Instant Articles is initially available to about 5 per cent of the users, a full rollout is expected by the end of the year.
"Facebook's Instant Articles has developed and refined as an excellent product and tool to have our award-winning reportage, columnists and bloggers reach out to more readers, all in multimedia. We're happy to be in the first line of partnerships Facebook has struck in India for the Instant Articles rollout, and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Facebook," says Anant Goenka, wholetime director and head, New Media, The Indian Express Group.
The statement adds that the Instant Articles tool leverages the technology used to display photos and videos quickly in the Facebook app to load articles instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web. It is a powerful new creative tool that brings stories to life by letting users zoom into high-resolution photos and tilt to explore them in detail. Autoplay videos come alive as you scroll through the article, and interactive maps indicate the location from where the news happened.
Ritu Kapur, CEO - The Quint, says, "We saw that this was going to lift the user experience to an altogether different level. So when Facebook reached out, they had us at hello. We fast-tracked the implementation and had The Quint's Instant Articles (test) out in a few weeks. We're still fine-tuning the experience, but we're happy with the results so far."