Facebook's internet.org launches first app, offering free access to Wikipedia, job listings and baby care in developing countries
The app is free to use for customers on Africa's Airtel mobile operator
Facebook’s internet.org initiative launched last year with the intention of working with industry companies to reduce the cost and hassle associated with getting online developing countries.
Now the project is releasing its first app for Android phones, providing free access to core services including Google search, government info, weather, job listings, Wikipedia, and – of course – Facebook.
The app is trialling in Zambia first, with plans to extend its coverage to other countries over time. It’s available for both smartphones and feature phones and can also be accessed through Facebook’s own main app.
Access will be free to any customers on Airtel Africa – a subsidiary of Indian telecommunications giant Airtel, and the market leader in numerous African countries including Chad, Gabon, Malawi, Niger and the Republic of the Congo.
Although Facebook was one of the first players to get involved with signing up ‘the next billion’ global internet users, it’s now part of a wider effort that includes the likes of Google’s Project Loon and the Alliance for Affordable Internet, backed by Tim Berners-Lee.
Although the social network has been accused of hiding commercial interest under the guise of philanthropy (after all, more internet users mean more customers) there’s no doubt that offering free access to information about women’s rights and maternity care in developing countries can only be a good thing.
However, that doesn't mean it's not slightly worrying that Facebook might decide what counts as a 'basic' internet service in the future (no one is surprised that Twitter doesn't make their list) and the scheme is still designed to make money for Airtel - one click outside the app and users are warned they're going to need to buy some data to carry on browsing. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Life & Style blogs
Surgeon backs 'good death' plans - and reveals his own
NHS hit by stealth cuts of £2bn as tariffs received for medical procedures are reduced
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus and benefits: Ashdown Group: European Recrui...