Google launches ‘data-friendly’ YouTube Go in South Africa

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You may’ve heard of Android Go, Google’s lightweight version of its mobile operating system for entry-level smartphones with 1GB of RAM or less. It turns out, Google’s released a number of other ‘Go’ products to go with it, including Google Maps Go, browser Google Go and now South African users can enjoy a low-demand, low-data version of its video service, called YouTube Go.

The new app will come pre-installed on all Android 8.1 (Go Edition) phones like the R1,000 Nokia 1, and Google says its been built with an ‘offline-first philosophy’ so it’ll work even when a user has poor or no connectivity. It also prioritises letting users know exactly how much data it uses and when it is doing so, so they can adjust their usage accordingly.

Where content creators allow for downloads, YouTube Go also makes it possible for users to store video content on their devices for later viewing at one of two resolutions — low or standard — and a ‘preview video’ feature allows users to get a sense of whether or not something is worth watching before they commit.

“With YouTube Go, we want to make it possible for everyone in South Africa to be able to discover and share videos that they love regardless of their data consumption preference,” says Google Africa CMO Mzamo Masito. “We understand the unique challenges — connectivity, cost and social models — faced by South Africans and users in other emerging economies. YouTube Go was created on the back on our understanding of these issues.”

Google Africa CMO Miami Masito

Perhaps the most interesting feature of YouTube Go is the option to share videos between YouTube Go users wirelessly, without incurring data costs. Of course, this is only possible when both parties have the app and when it is content the creator or owners has allowed for download.

“People in South Africa love YouTube,” says Masito, “but the current app is too data-heavy for it to be usable to most viewers, who don’t have high-speed and large capacity data plans, or free Wi-Fi.” He’s hoping YouTube Go can address those concerns and give South African users something nearer the YouTube experience those without data constraints enjoy.

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