YouTube has released a major update to its Apple TV app, bringing the first major redesign since the app launched in late 2015.
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ProTube, a YouTube power-user app that I reviewed last year, has long had features that the official YouTube doesn’t have or was slow to implement. Features like background audio playback, support for 4K video at 60fps, Split View support, Picture in Picture, and a URL scheme for automation, put Google’s YouTube app to shame. However, as the YouTube app began to implement some of ProTube’s unique features as part of its $10/month YouTube Red service, I wondered what might become of ProTube. Unfortunately, it looks like the answer came late last week when Apple pulled ProTube from the App Store.
YouTube first requested Apple to remove my app well over a year ago, initially just stating that my app violates their Terms of Service. This was a generic takedown request they sent to many YouTube apps at once. They later started going into more detail, even stating that I could not sell the app as that alone violates their ToS. They basically wanted me to remove every feature that made ProTube what it is – that includes the player itself that allows you to play 60fps videos, background playback, audio only mode and more.
The app, which was pulled from the App Store on September 1st is no longer available for sale and will no longer receive updates, but remains available to re-download if you previously purchased it.
It’s a shame to see ProTube go. It implemented features Google didn’t care, or want, to add but that a subset of YouTube users wanted as demonstrated by the top charts numbers in Gessner’s post. However, ProTube also implemented features that YouTube wanted to reserve for paid subscribers and the result, while disappointing, is one of the risks of building an app on top of someone else’s service.
YouTube today introduced a new logo and announced a host of improvements to its service across mobile and web platforms – some of which launch today, while others are coming soon.
After testing with limited groups for a time, YouTube’s Material Design web update is now being rolled out to all users. With it comes the exciting addition of a Dark Theme – a feature I hope makes its way to the service’s mobile apps soon.
YouTube’s iOS app received a minor update today that brought two primary changes: a redesigned header dominated by white space and the new logo, and new playback speed controls. Playback speed can be set as slow as 0.25x or as fast as 2x, with several options in-between. You’ll find the controls in a video’s settings menu, which can be accessed from the top-right corner of the screen.
Perhaps more exciting than the new features launching today are those coming in the near future, such as adaptive video:
Soon, the YouTube player will seamlessly change shape to match the video format you’re watching, such as vertical, square or horizontal. That means you’ll always get the best viewing experience automatically – including vertical videos with no black bars on the sides!
A new gesture to switch videos with a single swipe is also coming soon, and lastly a revamped area below the video player for improved browsing.
There are few macOS utilities I’ve tried that take a potentially complex, multi-step process and boil it down to a simple task as well as Softorino YouTube Converter 2 does. That’s because it’s a difficult technical and design challenge to hide complexity without creating an inflexible app with too many compromises. Softorino YouTube Converter, also known as SYC, does an excellent job avoiding the pitfalls and striking a balance between utility and simplicity. It only takes a few steps to go from a URL to a downloaded video or audio file, but SYC still allows for just enough tweaking along the way that it preserves a level of versatility that should make it attractive to a wide range of users.
Today YouTube launched a new iPhone-only app called Uptime. Uptime adopts many of the social features commonly found in social video streaming apps like Periscope – live comments, reactions, etc. – and applies them to YouTube videos.
Inside the app, you browse videos in a feed consisting of content shared by people you follow in Uptime. You can also tap the search box at the bottom to search for videos or pick from a list of videos based on your YouTube subscriptions and viewing history.
When viewing a video in Uptime, what you're watching will be publicly available to your followers in their Uptime feed, so they can join in and watch alongside you. You also have the option to directly share a video with others, whether by sending them a link using the iOS share sheet or by inviting them inside the app.
As a video is being watched, all current viewers are represented by their profile pictures on a track that covers the borders of the screen. As the video moves closer to its end, you'll be further along the track, and you can manually drag and drop your avatar to navigate through the video. During playback, you can type comments, use one of six built-in reaction emoji, or move your finger around the screen to create a sparkle effect. Videos can be viewed in both portrait and landscape, but currently there is no way to type comments while in landscape.
Uptime is available in the App Store, but it requires an invitation code to setup your account. The code PIZZA is currently working.
Yesterday YouTube announced a forthcoming TV offering called YouTube TV. The streaming service consists of a bundle of over 40 networks, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and ESPN. YouTube Red Originals are thrown in too. When it launches this spring, the service will cost $35/month with no contracts or other commitments.
Upon launch, YouTube TV will be available as a new app, separate from the standard YouTube app. Yesterday's blog post mentions an iOS app, but there is no reference to an Apple TV app.
You can watch YouTube TV on any screen—mobile, tablet or computer—and you can easily stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV. YouTube TV works on both Android and iOS.
While this could be a simple oversight, it appears that watching on the big screen will require a Chromecast device. We'll have to wait until launch to see for sure. Similarly, it's unknown at this point if the iOS app will support Picture in Picture or Split View on iPad. The lack of an Apple TV app or iPad-specific features would make the service much less appealing to someone who watches most video on those devices.
One of the biggest selling points for YouTube TV is that it includes a cloud DVR with unlimited storage. The freedom to record anything and never worry about storage space is nice. Especially since, unlike many traditional cable or satellite services today, I would expect YouTube's DVR to work flawlessly regardless of whether you're watching on a mobile device or your TV. One small string attached to the DVR is that content gets erased nine months after it's been recorded.
YouTube TV is the latest in a series of TV streaming offerings that bundles together big-name networks in a package resembling a traditional cable bundle. Sling TV was the first major player to dip its toes into the market, followed by PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, and Hulu has announced they'll have their own offering available soon. One advantage YouTube TV may have over its current competition is the experience gained from serving a billion hours of video content every day. YouTube should have no trouble scaling the service to reach large numbers of users for things like major sporting events.
Recently I shared in a Club MacStories newsletter how I had cut the cord and ended my satellite service. Because of that, streaming services like YouTube TV are more appealing to me than ever. Though the potential lack of iPad features or an Apple TV app are concerning, YouTube's credentials make its service more appealing in my mind than any of its competition. YouTube knows what it's doing with streaming video, so I'm looking forward to checking this service out.
Last summer YouTube announced its plans to put live streaming tools into the hands of its users. Today marks the first step toward making that happen, as mobile live streaming is now rolling out to all users with 10,000 or more followers. YouTube promises the feature will be available to all users soon, regardless of follower count.
Mobile live streaming has been built directly into the YouTube mobile app. All you have to do to start streaming is open YouTube, hit the capture button, and you’re live! Streamed videos will have all the same features as regular YouTube videos. They can be searched for, found via recommendations or playlists, and protected from unauthorized use.
Paired with its live streaming rollout, YouTube is also launching its previously announced Super Chat tool. Super Chat is a live stream feature that enables special monetization opportunities for creators. In a way it's a digital tip jar. When watching a live stream, users can pay a fee to have a message they write receive special highlighting that makes it more noticeable to the video's creator. Any highlighted message not only stands out visually, but also remains on screen longer than a normal message. The examples shown by YouTube so far involve a $5.00 fee to receive a highlighted message, though that number may vary based on the creator's choice.
If you own a Google Chromecast or Chromecast-compatible device, you now have more options for controlling it from an iOS device. The YouTube app received an update that lets you play, pause, skip forward and back, and control the volume of streaming video from the Lock screen and Control Center of an iOS device, or from an Apple Watch. This functionality has been available on Android for a long time, so it’s nice to see it extended to iOS users who have a Chromecast too.