When YouTube Go was announced back in 2016, it filled a role that needed filling. Specifically, it supported users with limited internet access and devices that are slightly behind the curve. It did so by being a smaller app, optimised for slower mobile devices, that used less data when streaming video. Poorer countries, and those with limited internet access, had an easier way onto the YouTube platform.
Google announced that it is saying goodbye to the ‘Go’ app. Why? Well, Google believes that the app has become redundant. Which it perhaps has, in places with extensive internet coverage and more or less affordable data.
YouTube Go elsewhere
The app is leaving the Google Play Store sometime in August, with no exact date mentioned. Google wants Go users to make the switch over to the full-sized YouTube app before the Go service officially ends.
The reason for the shutdown, according to Google, is that YouTube has since upgraded the experience in its main app. Users get the same features they’ve come to expect from YouTube Go, and more. Google claims Go users have been asking for features such as community interaction, shorts, and dark mode. Shutting down YouTube Go delivers those — in a roundabout way.
YouTube says that its main app has been upgraded to accommodate Go users – essentially making YouTube Go unnecessary. Videos now use less data, and users may download videos in the desired quality. The main app should also run better on lower-end devices.
“Specifically, we have improved performance for entry-level devices or those that watch YouTube on slower networks. We’re also building out additional user controls that help to decrease mobile data usage for viewers with limited data” said YouTube.
The future of Android Go, the lightweight phone OS, looks murky after YouTube Go’s cancellation. Android still offers a range of Go apps such as Google Search, Assistant, Maps, Gmail, and Gallery [Go]. It begs the question of whether these apps will still be viable in the future, or if Google will ditch them and migrate users towards the official app counterparts.
Whether YouTube has improved on these features for their Go users remains to be seen. If the official app does as promised, then Go users will have nothing to worry about. If the app still runs poorly on older phones and slower connections, it will leave many users high and dry. Or buffering, at the very least.