Apps YouTube

Published on February 24th, 2018 | by Kirk Hiner

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Opinion: YouTube app update misses the mark

The visceral reaction to Google’s YouTube app for Apple TV harkens back to the release of Word 6 for Mac. Many of our readers won’t remember that, but for those of us who were there, it’s the closest we ever came to grabbing our pitchforks and storming the castle. Why? Quite simply because the Mac interface was gone, replaced with the ugly and cumbersome Windows UI.

Apple doesn’t get everything right (just take a look at iTunes), but when they do nail it you don’t want to change things up just to bring your own branding to the Apple faithful. That’s what Google did, more or less, with their YouTube app for Apple TV. We actually didn’t mind it much here at BESTAppleTV, but our readers disagreed, claiming…

“I do understand its easier for you to have this “one-app-for-every-platform” approach. But for heavens sake, at least try to optimise and integrate it towards the tvOS-platform. The way the Siri Remote works and navigates and how we have lost each and every tvOS specific feature is just poor customer service.”

We also had…

“I just want to be able to shuffle my playlist again!!! Most of my playlists have 200+ videos, some up to 400. Now I’m stuck having to watch them all in the same order each time. I don’t get it, they don’t think about these type of things? What a horrible new design.”

…and…

“I laughed while reading this silly puff piece. This a horrible downgrade by porting the old clunky app the rest of device users have suffered with for many years.”

Silly fluff piece? Hey now!

The general gist is that when you eschew the comfortable and expected Apple interface elements, you’re just going to anger everyone. Apple knows what they’re doing, and nearly ever other app developer happily and successfully works within these parameters. Google apparently is more arrogant, and thought they knew better.

Until everyone lambasted them. They’ve now released another update, and whereas it does fix a few things, it’s likely not going to be enough to satiate angry Apple TV users.

Specifically, the update has modified the subscriptions page layout for easier channel selection, fixed an issue with the search keyboard when using non-Siri TV remotes, and offers general bug fixes and stability improvements.

What it doesn’t address are the confusing playback interface, the ugly lack of adherence to tvOS development guidelines, the inability to swipe between sections (and lazy integration with the Siri Remote in general), the finicky controls, etc. Perhaps those are still ahead in a more significant update. Perhaps Google just doesn’t care. If you want YouTube on Apple TV after all, it’s not like you have any other options.

We still don’t hate the YouTube experience as much as some, and honestly, having a cumbersome YouTube app on Apple TV is better than no YouTube app at all. Either way, if Apple TV users aren’t happy with the updates, we’re confident they’ll let us Google (and us) know.

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About the Author

has been writing for the Apple web since 1997, having served as editor of Applelinks and the Technology Tell Apple Channel. In addition to his work with BEST Apple TV, Kirk currently contributes to Mac Gamer HQ and Pure Nintendo. He lives with his wife and three children in small-town Ohio where the land is cheap and the air is (relatively) clean.



3 Responses to Opinion: YouTube app update misses the mark

  1. Jack Smith says:

    Started with Sling but since switched to YouTube TV. With YouTube TV you basically get TV on demand for the first time. You get unlimited tuners and storage so I basically just set everything to record. Just love this.

    Take the Olympics and forgot to set the US Hockey game and also the US mens curling. No problem with YouTube TV. It is there to watch.

    Right now Google has indicated they are going to grandfather everyone on YouTube TV that has the service as of March 13 to keep the original price with the new channels.

  2. Matt says:

    Google dropped the ball big time on this. They added new features which is good but not handling the remote properly and removing the standard tvOS timeline control were big mistakes. I use the iOS version often and am still trying to figure out how to fast forward 10 seconds in the tvOS. The grid version for subscriptions in the old version was also superior.

  3. James Porteous says:

    YouTube is a nightmare to begin with. It is hard to imagine that the King of Metadata has not bothered to put some sort of manageable archive in place.

    I realize it should have been done earlier but really the only way to find anything in YouTube is to search outside the site. It is a shame.

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