Apple, Google, and the Fate of YouTube on iPhone

After Apple recently refused to renew its YouTube licence for iOS, a new YouTube app has been submitted by Google to the App Store ready for iOS 6 and the iPhone 5.

Apple v Android

Over the past couple of years Apple has been lashing out at various manufacturers supporting the Android operating system which it feels blatantly rips off its own iOS interface. Rather than directly battling Google, which remember is the primary source of Apple’s grievance, companies such as HTC, Motorola, and in particular Samsung, have all felt the full force of Apple’s legal team in a number of high profile patent lawsuits.

With the announcement of iOS 6 earlier this summer it became clear that Apple is now more confident in tackling Google head on. Not through patent lawsuits exactly, but by trying to minimise the influence that the search giant has on Apple’s products.

New Maps App

Firstly, Apple will ditch Google Maps for its Maps app on iOS and replace it with an Apple developed Maps app powered by TomTom and Bing. For the end user this may not make a huge difference, the app is fairly similar in appearance to the earlier Google-powered version. Some Google features will be missing of course, but the new Maps app has a 3D flyover mode. Unfortunately this 3D mode is limited to a small selection of US cities, making it a rather pointless novelty for most iPhone users.

YouTube Licence

In recent months Apple has also announced that it had decided not to renew its YouTube licence with Google. Since the first iPhone Apple had paid a licence fee to Google in order to offer a standard YouTube app for iPhone and iPad users. Part of reason behind this was that YouTube used Flash videos, and with Adobe Flash not being supported in iOS the videos needed to be converted to HTML5.

The iOS YouTube app was built by Apple under Google supervision, rather than being an app developed by Google itself. Because of this, it was not updated as frequently as YouTube apps on other platforms and many features were absent. Advertising, if you can call that a “feature”, is what allows YouTube to publish copyrighted material like music videos, and so the absence of advertising on the iPhone’s YouTube app also meant the absence of many videos.

New YouTube App

Google has now submitted a new YouTube app to the App Store which has been approved and now brings the YouTube experience on the iPhone closer to that enjoyed on Android. It is easier to browse through videos on channels you have subscribed to (just swipe the screen to the side), and the addition of advertising means that many previously unviewable videos can now be enjoyed on iOS.

This includes popular music videos from artists on large record labels. While no doubt many people who use YouTube on their phones do so to watch / listen to music, the addition of intrusive adverts may come as a bit of a let-down for iPhone users who have previously been spared their presence.

More Ad Revenue

While Apple had refused to renew its YouTube licence due to its anger at Google and Android, the move may have actually benefitted Google more than Apple. iPhone and iPad users can still watch YouTube videos, either through the new app or through Safari, but now Google is able to bombard them with adverts in a way that it was previously unable to.

It is well documented that iPhone users make up the majority of smartphone internet traffic and are also more likely to spend more money online. Google also already makes more advertising revenue from iPhone users than it does from users of its own operating system, and with one billion YouTube videos being watched from a smartphone every single day, Google is likely to start reaping lots of rewards from the new advert filled YouTube app on iOS.

New iPhone Imminent

The older iPhone YouTube app will still be available for iPhones running older versions of iOS, but any iPhone updating to iOS 6 will have to use the new advert powered version. The latest version of iOS will be launched alongside the iPhone 5 on September 12th, which could possibly be the first LTE powered iPhone. LTE will provide download speeds which will make YouTube videos much more enjoyable to watch without a Wi-Fi connection, and without annoying buffering interrupting your viewing.

Simon Drew

Simon writes for

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Felicia - November 7, 2012

Hi Simon,
I wasn’t exactly aware that Apple pays Google for the free YouTube app that was built-in to iOS devices. I have used the new YouTube app on my iPod touch and I must admit that it is much easier to navigate as to how it used to in the past. The icon of the new app though looks kind of rushed, then again, what matters is we are able to play streaming videos from YouTube. Now if only we could play the videos from anime streaming sites, then that would be a blast.


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