YouTube Launches Android API, Letting Developers Natively Embed Videos With Captions, Ads, And Fullscreen Playback

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YouTube today has released its Android API, providing more native functionality for developers who wish to build video into their apps for Android phones and tablets. The API, which was announced at Google I/O in June, could pave the way for more interesting video-related apps that leverage YouTube videos.

With the launch of the new Android API, developers will now be able to embed high-quality videos to their apps without having to leverage YouTube’s WebView implementation. For apps on Android, that means no more iframes. It also means that developers will have a much richer suite of available actions and features that they’ll be able to take advantage of.

Available for apps on Froyo devices or later, the API provides access to full-screen video and orientation change support, as well as closed-caption display, support for YouTube ads, and direct access to the Android YouTube app. While being launched on an experimental basis, the API will drastically improve the experience for users tuning in to videos on Android apps.

Earlier today, I bemoaned the lack of Android apps which support video discovery and native YouTube embeds while writing about 9×9.tv. Indeed, that app is one of the first to take advantage of the new API, providing a new form of video discovery for Android users. Soundtracking — which Josh wrote about yesterday — is also leveraging the new API to provide some new, Android-only features. In addition, Buzzfeed and Flipboard are taking advantage of the new API, building YouTube videos directly into their Android apps.

We can expect more apps to emerge on Android devices that take advantage of these capabilities. We’re also likely to see the emergence of more cross-platform capabilities from existing apps that today only work on iOS devices. For Google, it’s one way to help boost development for Android, while also improving the quality of experience for YouTube viewers in non-YouTube apps.