More than a year after first announcing plans for a new “offline first” YouTube app, and nine months after launching it in India, Google has today revealed that its YouTube Go app will now be made available to download in 130 new markets globally. But it won’t be landing in the U.S. or other western markets.
The Android-only YouTube Go app was initially pitched at the so-called “next billion” internet users in India. It was redesigned from the ground up to work where connectivity is zero or weak: Users can choose a resolution when streaming or saving a video for offline viewing, and they can also preview videos by tapping on a thumbnail to garner a better idea of a video’s content before they play it.
Additionally, the YouTube Go app allows you to share videos with friends nearby who don’t have an internet connection on their phone.
Most of the new country launches are in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Egypt, Iran, and Pakistan. However, a handful of countries in Europe and North America will also be able to access YouTube Go including Mexico, Cyprus, Malta, San Marino, Georgia, and Turkey.
Using feedback it’s gathered from earlier launch markets, YouTube Go will also gain a few new features. For example, users will now be able to stream, download, and share videos in “high quality,” in addition to the existing “basic” and “standard” quality resolutions. Obviously this will be more appealing in markets with more widespread connectivity.
Other updates include easier access to personalized content from the homescreen and the ability to share multiple videos at the same time.
YouTube has actually offered offline mode in its main app across a number of countries, including India, since 2014. It later introduced a new “smart offline” feature in the main app in India, allowing users to schedule videos to download during off-peak hours. However, with the standalone YouTube Go app, Google is giving users an app purpose-built for situations where they may have slow or no connectivity.
This all feeds into YouTube’s growing push to make its videos available to as many people as possible on the devices and networks they are most likely to use. YouTube has long evolved beyond its roots as a platform for sharing quirky homemade videos — it’s now a major mainstream entertainment player with two premium video offerings. There’s YouTube Red, which launched last year, and YouTube TV, which is pretty much an online cable bundle. This started rolling out to big-screen platforms such as Android TV and Xbox One in October, and today it landed on Roku.
With YouTube Go, you have one less reason not to watch videos on YouTube if you live in one of the 145 markets where it’s available. And that’s important to Google as it fights off Facebook’s growing presence in the video realm, where the ad business and the dollars it brings are too big to ignore.