BEACON TRANSCRIPT – We’re so used to fast internet that we almost forgot the ol’ days of waiting on the 2G connection to load videos on our smartphone. But Facebook hasn’t forgotten and it has a plan to close the “empathy gap” between its employees and the emerging markets.
“2G Tuesdays” is the new initiative that will give Facebook employees the chance to experience really slow internet as a way to figure out ways to improve connection in areas where that’s the best connection people can get. The stark differences are bound to shake up a few people, including engineering director Tom Alison.
He actually remembers the first time he opened the Facebook app via a 2G connection – he says he felt his patience was tested. At the same time, a feeling shared by other users forced to use Facebook with a 2G connection, is the fact that it often seems like parts of the app are broken and not functional.
While most Americans access the internet from smartphones capable of incomparably faster 3G or even 4G connections, there are millions of people all over the world becoming acquainted with the online via 2G. To put things in perspective, this kind of connection takes more than 2 minutes to load a simple webpage.
That’s why Alison’s team has been focused on redesigning Facebook’s News Feed in such a way that even super-slow network speeds can easily load it. In order to optimize it, the engineers often use 2G simulators on smartphones or even take trips to places like Kenya and India in order to get the first-hand experience of the difficulties that may come from using the product.
But Facebook has found a much cheaper and practical way to handle the empathy gap than international trips, and this is where “2G Tuesdays” enters the scene. Come Tuesday morning, and Facebook employees will see a notification at the top of their News Feed asking whether they want to log in on a significantly slower connection for an hour.
If they accept, they get to experience Facebook on simulated 2G connection for the next hour. More than spotting the places that need improvement, they can also see the progress the product has made. Earlier in October, Facebook has released some of the improvements in the app, such as the open-sourced Network Connection Class.
This system allows the app to figure out the user’s connection speed and show the News Feed accordingly. On super-slow connections, for example, users will mostly see status updates and links and not videos and photos.
Image Source: Gadgets 360