Tuesday September 12, 2017 3:20 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Facebook is testing a new mobile app feature called Instant Videos that downloads video clips for later viewing whenever a user's phone is connected to Wi-Fi, to save from burning through their mobile data plan. First spotted by The Next Web's Matt Navarra and later confirmed by TechCrunch, the feature will identify pre-loaded and cached videos in the news feed with a lightning bolt icon so that users know they can watch them for free while on the go. Facebook Instant Videos coming soon? ⚡️ h/t Devesh Logendran pic.twitter.com/rNZYkbeL2r— Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) September 11, 2017 The Instant Video feature is in a similar vein to Facebook's Instant Articles, the hosted content format that loads much faster than mobile websites and negates the need to wait for a separate web app to load the content. Likewise, publishers could see the new feature as a way to get their video clips maximum exposure on the social network. The feature could also benefit Facebook's own original content push, with video organized under the new Watch tab, allowing users to cache episodes for viewing on their daily commute. According to TechCrunch, the Instant Video test is currently only available to a small number of Android users, as the company lays the groundwork for more budget-conscious users in the developing world. But it's likely the feature will eventually make its way over to Facebook's iPhone app if the mini rollout is deemed successful.