YouTube releases iOS app

September 11, 2012

YouTube has released its own iPhone app, which looks more like it’s mobile site, in preparation for Wednesday’s expected launch of the newest iPhone.

Apple said in August that a license to include the pre-loaded YouTube app in iOS had expired, meaning that the app — which had been a staple since the first iPhone — would no longer be a part of the package when consumers bought a new iPhone.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said that it would release its own app for Apple products moving forward.

The move was seen as just one more knock on the wedge separating Apple and Google, especially as Apple is also releasing its own version of maps in this version of the operating system.

In some ways, this was a good development for YouTube. The new app is able to do things such as showcase recommendations for YouTube users based on their past viewing habits. That’s certainly a boost for YouTube, which is always looking for ways to increase user engagement and get people to stay with its content for longer periods of time.

In March 2012, according to comScore, users spent 424.6 minutes with Google video sites — which mostly means that they spent it with YouTube. Overall, the survey said, the average person spent 1,304.8 minutes watching online video in the month of March.

YouTube would like to see that number climb even higher with the roll-out of its channel initiative. The company has been helping produce original content that will make people tune in every week. With this app, you have much easier access to your subscribed channels, making it that much easier for you to follow someone on a regular basis.

And even if you don’t get recommendations served to you, the new app makes it much easier to navigate through YouTube, with the addition of a subject-based search guide that lets you look up videos based on interests such as music, pets and animals or sports. Users can also share videos on Google, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, and the app also allows you to save YouTube URLs to your clipboard.

Of course, you can still search for specific videos and the addition of autcomplete means that you’ll find your way to that crazy “Gangnam Style” video much more quickly than you would have in the old app, and without having to type it all the way through.

And what about your bigger iOS screen, the iPad? YouTube said in a company blog post that the app will work on the iPad as well, but a tablet-specific app is already on its way.

Perhaps the most important thing for users to know, though, is the fact that the new YouTube app comes with YouTube’s advertising. That gives YouTube a way to mon­etize its mobile presence — which is important, considering that the site gets 1 billion mobile views per day — but it also means that you’ll may have to endure some pre-roll to get to your favorite cat video on-the-go.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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