Last month, news broke that the YouTube iOS app — which had been pre-loaded on all iPhones since their launch — would be taken off the mobile device with the launch of iOS6. And at the time we noted that YouTube would be coming out with a replacement soon — and when it did, the app would have ads and a lot more content. Well, that time is now.
YouTube just announced that it has launched a new official version of its iPhone app on the Apple App Store. The name of the game here is monetization: YouTube and its partners want to get paid for the videos that run through its app, something they weren’t able to do through the Apple-built app that came pre-installed with previous versions of iOS. For the first time in a native iOS experience, YouTube will show pre-roll adds ahead of its mobile videos. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that with more monetization comes more content. Thanks to mobile ad capabilities baked into its own app, YouTube will unlock tens of thousands of music videos from VEVO and others that were not viewable on the old app.
In addition to more content, the new app improves the discovery experience, especially for YouTube fans who are well tapped in to the video site. By swiping your finger to the right, viewers will be able to check out a new YouTube channel guide, which will highlight all of their subscribed channels, giving them easier access to the content they care about most. It’ll also let them flip through related videos, comments, and more videos — even while they’re watching one on their iPhone. The new app also has an improved search experience, with autofill to give users suggestions while they enter search terms.
In addition to better discoverability, the new app also adds more ways for its users to share interesting videos with their friends and followers on the social networks. That includes connections to share with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Users can also send videos to friends via text message or through email.
For a time, users who download YouTube’s official iPhone app could have both the new version and Apple’s app on their phone at the same time — at least, until they upgrade to iOS6, which should be available sometime shortly after Apple’s big iPhone 5 event this Wednesday. In the meantime, any YouTube links will deep-link into the old app. Which isn’t ideal, but hey — real YouTube fans will likely use the company’s official app anyway.
Users with an iPad will be able to scale the app up, but it’s not optimized for the Apple tablet. And the whole thing works with Apple’s AirPlay, letting users also stream videos from the app over to the biggest screen in the house through the Apple TV.
The new iPhone app is just one more step toward increased monetization throughout a wide range of profiles. YouTube has rolled out new apps for Google TV, Xbox Live, and PlayStation 3. It also rolled out skippable ads on mobile devices, and the iPhone will be one of those mobile devices supporting that technology.