YouTube has added support for full-screen playback of vertical videos in their latest iOS app update. The new version follows a mobile web redesign and new Android features that will soon come to iOS as well.
While I understand that many people are deeply against vertical videos, the reality is that vertical video makes sense for some cases in the age of smartphones. The ergonomics of big phones make it easier to start shooting in portrait mode without having to rotate the device and wait for the interface to adjust. On the iPhone, for instance, there's no landscape Lock screen, and a camera shortcut is right there in the portrait Lock screen. Vertical video is ideal for framing people or faces with the front-facing camera – just see how people are watching videos in Snapchat, and you'll get the idea.
On iOS, FaceTime, selfies, and the majority of the iPhone UI are mostly portrait experiences, and that has changed how people approach media content created on mobile.
TVs and computer monitors are horizontally oriented and horizontal video is how movies and other videos are best experienced – I get that. But, like it or not, we live in an era where a lot of video content is also created by people with phones oriented vertically because it's faster, easier, or simply better to record that way in some scenarios.
For this reason, I welcome YouTube adding support for full-screen vertical video playback on their platform.
The Apple TV yesterday received four more channels, with UFC, The Scene, Fusion and Dailymotion joining the dozens of other channels available on the device. The above image is an update to our original article that visualizes the addition of Apple TV channels since the Apple TV 2 launched (the original black puck version).
The Apple TV also got an update to the long-standing YouTube channel, featuring a new design and new features. The highlights of this update includes predictive search, personalized recommendations and the ability to subscribe to channels. It probably wouldn't be considered a 'feature', but the updated YouTube channel now also supports advertisements before videos. You can watch a brief promotional video from Google that talks about the update below.
Following the announcement of YouTube Music Key earlier today, Google updated its official YouTube app for iOS with a new Music tab in preparation for the service's beta rollout next week.
The new tab, available at the top of the main interface, doesn't bring Music Key functionalities, but instead showcases a selection of music based on popularity and your watching history on YouTube. In this section, YouTube is offering mixes (non-stop playlists based on songs or artists, like radio stations), recommended videos, a history section for music videos you've played before, plus trending and popular videos.
The selections in the new Music area of YouTube are solid when it comes to personal history and recommendations, but they feel a little impersonal as they lack any sort of editorial pick or curated content. The Music tab is very much user-centric at this point: music videos are either recommended based on your history and likes on YouTube or they're already part of your subscriptions and playlists. The execution is nice thanks to large previews, a clean interface, and the ability to quickly start playing a mix or a playlist, but, right now, YouTube's Music tab is obviously not meant to replace the home page of services like Beats Music or Spotify.
You can get the updated YouTube app with the new Music section on the App Store.
Widely rumored for the past several months, Google today announced YouTube Music Key, a premium service that, starting at $7.99/month, will offer ad-free videos, the ability to keep listening to videos as music in the background, offline downloads, and access to Google Play Music (the new name for Google Play Music All Access).
From the YouTube blog:
Thanks to your music videos, remixes, covers, and more, you’ve made YouTube the biggest music service on the planet. To turn YouTube into your perfect music service, we’re launching YouTube Music Key as a beta with our biggest music fans first, and then we’ll bring YouTube Music Key to the whole world together. So, if you see an invite in your app or email, try it out for six months for free.
YouTube Music Key follows a plan to revamp YouTube's entire music strategy with a new dedicated section:
Starting today, you’ll see a new home just for music on your YouTube app for Android, iOS and on YouTube.com that shows your favorite music videos, recommended music playlists based on what you’re into and playlists of trending music across YouTube. You can find a playlist to perfectly fit your mood, whether that’s a morning motivators playlist or Boyce Avenue YouTube Mix. Check out the newest songs from channels you subscribe to, like FKA twigs or Childish Gambino. Or quickly find the songs you’ve played over and over and over again.
The YouTube Music Key beta will start rolling out next week, and it appears that current Google Music All Access subscribers will get access to it immediately.
I'm interested in Google's plans with YouTube because the service has what other music streaming services have always lacked: a huge catalogue of videos from artists that go beyond albums and singles. As someone who regularly watches concert videos and demo recordings on YouTube, I'm curious to see how an ad-free experience with web and iOS access could improve content that I can't get anywhere else.
Every time I go out with friends and we start talking about music, there's always that one guy who wants to play a song and he does so…using YouTube. In spite of the relatively low barrier to entry for services like Spotify and Rdio (both available in Italy with free plans), the convenience of using YouTube as an audio source is indisputable (on top of that, add the fact that most people have a high tolerance for YouTube ads – or ads in general). Personally, I prefer a dedicated music streaming service or my iTunes Match library, but I do rely on YouTube for the occasional live performance or unreleased demo tape that I can't obtain legally anywhere else.
Tuner is a music player for YouTube videos: with a simple search feature, it uses YouTube as an audio source, turning videos into songs you can listen to on your iPhone.
The official YouTube app for iOS received an update earlier today. You can now choose the quality of videos you want to stream (tap the new icon on the video player); unfortunately, after two months, the app still isn't built for iOS 7.
Previously, YouTube announced that an update set to be released in November will add a new feature to download videos for offline watching.
Today, Google has officially launched version 2.0 of its YouTube app on the App Store, bringing a tweaked user interface, new icon, and picture-in-picture to the mobile client.
The big new feature of this version is picture-in-picture for videos, which allows you to keep watching a video while browsing or searching. This has been a popular option of third-party clients such as FoxTube for quite a while, and, in Google’s implementation, the player can be dismissed with a tap on an arrow button or a swipe down directly on the video player. Both on the iPhone and iPad, dismissing the player reveals a delightful animation and transition that quickly sends the video down to the bottom of the screen, where you can tap again to enlarge it, or swipe it away to close it.
Overall, the improved animations of the app are much snappier and responsive than version 1.4, and there are dozens of new transitions, translucency effects, and subtle interface hints that contribute to making navigation faster and fluid.
More importantly, YouTube 2.0 packs a tweaked design – starting from the icon – that suggests Google has been getting its iOS apps ready for the major 7.0 update coming to iOS this Fall. The app gets rid of several textures and graphical elements for a more subdued design with a focus on colors (red for selections, gray for the sidebar, whitespace for navigation and search results), transparency, gestures, and animations. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine Google going one step further with this new design and enhancing with iOS 7-only APIs such as blurs and physics effects once iOS 7 is available. The new app doesn’t mimic the look of Apple’s iOS 7 apps, but it does look like Google’s way of easing users into iOS 7’s (fast-approaching) future.
Based on my initial tests, YouTube 2.0 seems to be a powerful and welcome improvement over the old version. The picture-in-picture player is a great addition, and the app has a cleaner, more responsive interface.
YouTube 2.0 is available on the App Store.
After Cody linked to FoxTube for Mac two days ago, I figured I haven’t mentioned why, after nearly a year and a major update, I’m still using FoxTube for iOS alongside the official YouTube app.
FoxTube isn’t the best looking app ever made for iOS; while the 2.0 version improved the overall design, there’s still a lot going on in terms of interface and everything feels a bit cramped, especially on the iPhone. The icon is a literal representation of the app’s name; sometimes, icons in toolbars overlap with navigation buttons. I wish the FoxTube developer could find a way to slim down the interface and make some parts more cohesive, but I understand how that can be difficult when FoxTube does so many things.
FoxTube is a supercharged YouTube client for iOS. I know what you’re thinking: you don’t need another YouTube app after the release of the (free) official client. And that is probably true – as MacStories readers know, I’m a big fan of the new YouTube app (App Store users seem to agree, too). FoxTube, however, is a great complement to the YouTube app that I recommend if you’re looking for more flexibility and customization in certain aspects of the YouTube experience. Read more
Almost a year ago we highlighted FoxTube, an alternative YouTube replacement for iOS that filled in a lot of missing gaps. And even though Google's own YouTube app (iTunes link) has replaced Apple's and delighted many users, FoxTube is the non-Jailbroken power user's player of choice, offering extra playback controls, media information on the lock screen, and the ability to play media in the background.
While I'm personally happy browsing YouTube on the web and using Tube Controller to integrate my Mac's media keys, FoxTube has come to the Mac, giving anyone the power to download videos offline for later viewing, take advantage of advanced media controls, and play media through a convenient mini player. In contrast to many recent app launches for OS X, it's even available for the latest version of Lion. FoxTube for Mac is $9.99, but you can download a free trial from the developer's website. Due to restrictions on the App Store, I'd recommend purchasing the app from the developer to get the full set of features.