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Published on February 8th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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Your complete guide to the new Apple TV YouTube app

The YouTube app for the Apple TV received a complete design overhaul Thursday, introducing a new interface similar in design to the YouTube app for iOS and other TV platforms like Roku. The bottom line…it’s better than its Roku counterpart.

The update feels more app-like for a TV platform with a new user interface and updated design. While some are saying that in many ways it’s virtually a port of the same experience on various other streaming platforms, we found it to be customized in many ways exclusively for the Apple TV.

Here’s your complete review – the good and the bad – of the new YouTube app for Apple TV…

The new feature set

A new universal search bar at the top of the screen makes it easier to find new content relevant to your interests and lets users swipe through dedicated categories horizontally like Music, Technology, Gaming, Food, and the Latest.

Unlike the Roku version of this app that lists categories in a vertical bar, the placement of the categories horizontally on the Apple TV app means it’s always there to swipe up to and change allowing for more real estate to see various videos.

Youtube app redesign image 1The new-look YouTube app on Apple TV is cleaner and more navigational.

A navigation bar on the left side of the screen pops out with a swipe to the left providing access to your subscriptions, library, and viewing history, and a new, more detailed settings section.

Youtube app redesign image 2The new navigation bar stays out of the way to concentrate on the video content.

New features in settings include the ability to clear watch and search histories, increase contrast, enable autoplay, and find videos on your mobile device and watch on your TV.

Users can now have multi-user sign in’s with the ability to switch between accounts.

When watching a video, you now see the progress of the streams loading, previously unavailable.

Better navigation using ‘pivot’

The app now includes functionality known as ‘pivot’, which that allows the user to swipe down to find new content with even leaving the video you’re currently watching.

Swipe down once to reveal a navigation bar of the video your currently watching…Swipe down again and up will pop a list of videos related to the current one you’re viewing…Swipe down again and you’ll see a list of more videos from the channel you’re currently viewing…and finally, swipe down again for access to a search button and home button.

Youtube app redesign image 3The new ‘pivot’ feature lets you find other videos without even leaving the video you’re currently watching.

Siri search from inside & outside the app

The addition of Siri support to search is a much-needed addition that really makes this app Apple TV-ready. Not only can you use Siri from within the app itself, but have Siri find content from outside the app, such as saying “Search for Saturday Night Live on YouTube.” Siri will then open the YouTube app and show the search results.

In our initial tests, we found the Siri capabilities worked well, finding and suggesting videos all based on how specific and concise you are in giving it meaningful keywords.

Youtube app redesign image 4Search for videos from within inside or outside the YouTube app with Siri

The not so good

Not to take away from the new and improved experience, the apps feature set is lacking so crucial things for the future.

The biggest disappointment is the lack of support for YouTube content inside the Apple TV TV app. While many will say the addition of YouTube content would be difficult to manage with so much other content, that should be a user prerogative. With so many people now only watching videos on YouTube this is a future must, as I see it.

While the app now lists 4K videos, YouTube isn’t supporting 4K playback in its continued battle of standards with Apple. While it is supporting video playback at switching frame rates of 24, 30, and 60 fps, the maximum available resolution is 1080p at 1920 x 1080. This is a downer, but there is little doubt YouTube will have to add 4K support soon whether they like it or not.

The bottom line

The new app is a definite improvement, but the importance of TV app support and real 4K playback support will be important features for addition in the near future. The experience is more like what you’d expect for Apple TV and all we can say is…it’s about time.

The new YouTube app for Apple TV should automatically update but if it doesn’t, choose ‘update’ from the app in the Apple TV App Store, or uninstall and reinstall the app completely.

Today’s revamped YouTube Apple TV app comes just a few days after YouTube officially introduced live streaming YouTube TV app for the Apple TV.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



4 Responses to Your complete guide to the new Apple TV YouTube app

  1. RamGuy says:

    Dear, Google and the YouTube-team

    Please remove or at least do some serious work with this “new app” for Apple TV and tvOS. I’m not normally one to complain, it seems to be the norm these days to complain about any kind of noticeable change to software like everyone complains each and every time Facebook does a UX-change and update to Facebook and Facebook Messenger or when Snapchat recently did a UX-overhaul of Snapchat etc.. People tend to hate change for whatever reason.

    I don’t want to be that guy, I don’t like to be that guy. But this update is just something that doesn’t work for me, and its even more hated by my fiancee which is even more important to me. You know how it is. Happy wife, happy life and so forth..

    The biggest problem with this new update is how its no longer a native-app on tvOS. Its just a wrapper for your YouTube.com/TV web-application. This is a rather lazy approach, and I’m somewhat surprised that its even allowed on the tvOS AppStore as Apple does not allow such wrappers onto the iOS AppStore, but I guess they have different rules, guidelines and terms and conditions for each platform.

    This approach works out really bad for tvOS. As with most “one-web-application-fits-all-platforms” approaches it lacks any kind of platform specific features and optimisations. This becomes abundantly clear with this new version as it behaves so much more poorly in so many ways compared to the previous version. Even basic things like integration towards the Apple Siri Remote is gone which makes navigation feels slow, wonky and horrible. It seems like you utilise zero tvOS specific API’s so the Siri Remote’s touchpad is not just emulating clicks in this new app resulting in slow and unintuitive navigation and control. There is no swiping, swiping only results in a emulated direction click, there is no acceleration when swiping faster and if you swipe for a extended amount of time there is no logical correlation with the swiping motions and whats being emulated in the app so even when you stop swiping the app will keep moving as it has registered additional emulated clicks compared to what you might have intended. It looks and feels horrible when the app keeps going when you have stopped swiping on the remote. It often misinterpretation the direction of swipes and everything.

    So we went from a version that was perfectly integrated with the remote, to a version that doesn’t seem to integrate at all.

    And as this is just a wrapper for the web-application it also uses the YouTube HTML-player instead of the native tvOS player like you did previously. This have removed support for automated frame rate switching and automated dynamic range switching. It also features playback controls that don’t follow or correlate with pretty much any other tvOS-app so it feels weird and clunky to use. Its even more hampered by the fact that the remote functions as badly as it does.

    The change of video-player has also changed how ads work and are being displayed. Previously we only had ads being displayed before playback, but now we have ads all-over the videos. There might be some before, several during playback etc.. This doesn’t seem to follow Apple’s strict rules for non-intrusive ads? What is going on here? This i degrading the user-experience by a lot. Where I had one 5 second to 15 second ad before, I might now have several 5 second ads popping up out of nowhere during playback in the most intrusive way with a box right in the middle of the screen with uneven audio levels? What is going on here?

    Other than that the new UX-design doesn’t comply with any tvOS guidelines or logic. There is no longer a top-bar you can easily access by swiping down from the top of the remote.On my 65-inch TV it feels like the UX-design is just blown-up as everything is just crazy large for no apparent reason? Why waste so much space on a always showing search bar, way too much information and large text under video thumbnails so we only have 3 1/2 video shown at once compared to the grid of 12 videos we had before. Combine this inefficient use of screen realestate with how badly navigation on the Siri Remote works it results in a really inefficient and clunky experience.

    The worst part of the new UX-design is the “Subscriptions” list. What is going on here? Its a endless list of huge circular icons? The icons are way too large and makes navigation and getting to the correct channel a shore. My fiancee are subscribed to over 50 channels and this UI only shows three icons at the time on a single row. She spent over 1 minute navigating from letter A to letter M. Its just not good design at all.

    We didn’t really get that many new features either? The only real thing that was added besides a different UX-design has been access to like/dislike and the capability of viewing and clicking embedded links in videos and that’s pretty much it. We still lack access to comments, we still can’t add videos to playlists or watch-later. And we lost any kind of optimisation towards tvOS and the Siri Remote, we lost automatic frame rate and dynamic range switching, we lost the capability to not have intrusive ads, we lost the option to shuffle playlists.

    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.

    At least provide the previous app separately for users that appreciate platform optimised applications.

  2. HappyFeetJam says:

    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.

  3. Stewart Hart says:

    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.

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