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Jasmine: Free, Elegant YouTube Client for iPhone and iPad

In my ongoing coverage of YouTube apps for iOS (a rising trend following the removal of the official YouTube app from iOS 6), I have been able to test Jasmine, a new YouTube client developed by Jason Morrissey, creator of Alien Blue.

If you’re looking for a YouTube app that’s elegantly designed, easy to use, and that runs both on the iPhone and iPad, I think Jasmine is your best option for now. And knowing Jason, I believe the app will soon get better with fixes, more features, and improvements to the interface. I’ve been testing Jasmine for the past two weeks, and especially on the iPad, the app has become my go-to client when I want to sit back and watch some videos on YouTube.

Both on the iPhone and iPad, the app has a light gray color scheme with font and menu navigation choices somewhat reminiscent of Morrissey’s work with Alien Blue; the app is fast at moving between sections, and you can tap on the status bar to switch to a “night mode” that makes the entire UI black. On the iPad, the app makes use of a Tweetie-inspired panel navigation, both in portrait and landscape mode; the performances are good, and panels contribute to facilitating the process of instantly seeing whether a video belongs to a playlist or a search query. Speaking of search, one of Jasmine’s nicest touches is the search field, which rotates and expands inline with a cute animation. I’d like to see search suggestions in a future update, though.

In Jasmine – like any other client these days – you can log into your YouTube account, or use the app to just search and browse YouTube content. The main screen/panel features shortcuts for search, browse, favorites, playlists, subscriptions, and recently played videos. The latter is just a local collection of videos you’ve watched on your device – it won’t sync with History on YouTube.com or another instance of Jasmine on another device (idea: iCloud sync could be used to sync videos across devices). The “Subscriptions” section, on the other hand, does synchronize with channels you’ve subscribed to through YouTube’s website (or another app), and lets you watch videos on a single channel basis, as well as a list of “latest videos” from all subscriptions – a useful feature to catch up on every new upload. Furthermore, if you want to discover more channels, you can search, enter a specific username, or check out YouTube recommendations in-app.

As I used Jasmine, I noticed I kept coming back to the “Browse” area. I don’t typically do this on the (cluttered) YouTube website, but I found myself casually checking out YouTube’s Featured and Trending videos a lot more with Jasmine.

Both channels and videos are presented with their own custom page. Videos have a large thumbnail at the top (which you can tap to play), and more actions below, such as comments (you can leave new ones), a link to the uploader’s page, description, ratings, related videos, mark as favorite, add to playlist, and share. Sharing supports the services iOS natively comes with, and is presented through the new iOS 6 share sheet. There is no option to set a specific streaming quality (like in Tube+), but there’s a setting you can turn on to be asked every time which kind of quality you’d like to load a video with (medium, 720p, etc).

If you don’t want to open a video page to share or mark as favorite, you can swipe on a result to bring up an action bar with buttons to share, add to playlists, and star. The same can be accomplished by tapping & holding a video, and I wish this feature also allowed me to quickly open an uploader’s page, like FoxTube does.

There are some things I wish Jasmine did better. For instance, I can’t find a section to catch up on the videos I “saved for later” on YouTube; and speaking of available sections, I think that, on the iPad, the larger screen could allow for an option to save personal shortcuts (say, to a playlist or search) in the sidebar.

On the surface, Jasmine looks extremely simple. But don’t let the app’s clean design and no-clutter approach fool you: Jasmine packs a lot of YouTube functionalities as well as nicely implemented little touches (the pinch-to-close gesture to dismiss panels on the iPad, the custom pull-to-refresh animation) that make for an intuitive and pleasant YouTube experience on iOS. And like I said above, if you own an iPad and have been looking for a great YouTube client, you should check out Jasmine.

Jasmine is free, with an in-app purchase to unlock parental controls and support the development of the app.

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