Facebook Updates App with Offline Features for Faster Reading

Because even those with Internet connections often tend to have only slow or spotty access, Facebook this week began rolling out some changes to make it easier for people to use its mobile app when their devices are offline or loading content at a snail's pace.

According to the latest figures from the International Telecommunication Union, nearly 7.1 billion people -- 95 percent of the world's population -- are now covered by a mobile-cellular signal, although only 3.2 billion are online.

Facebook has recently been focusing its efforts on improving the user experience for people with 2G connections that tend to offer speeds of just 40 Kbps, compared to 4G connections that can exceed 20 Mbps. The updates announced yesterday will speed up the loading of News Feed content when users have poor connections, and will also allow people to comment on posts when they are offline.

"People are coming online at a staggering rate in emerging markets and, in most cases, are doing so on mobile via 2G connections," Facebook said in a statement. It added that it plans to roll out and test the latest News Feed changes over time to assess how they might improve users' experiences.

Ranking Relevance for Unread Stories

"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," product manager Chris Marra and engineering manager Alex Sourov wrote in a post on Facebook's engineering blog. "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."

The update will work like this: News Feed stories that have been previously downloaded but not yet...

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