Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vita's Youtube App and My Thoughts

Just because I didn't want to use a stock.  You can screencap the App, if that wasn't obvious.  Also to prove my K-Pop obsession.  Okay that song is actually English but -details-.

So, I've been clamoring for it ever since it was announced officially (and probably before), but yesterday the Youtube App for the Vita was finally released to not really a whole lot of fanfare.  Which I suppose is fair, as it's just an application that lets you view videos that you should, by all rights, already be able to view if the whole Mobile Flash thing had been sorted or, better yet, Flash was already a thing of the past and something else for viewing videos was standard but that's another point entirely.  Regardless, as an app built from the ground-up for the sole purpose of viewing videos, one has to wonder whether or not it is capable of providing this sufficiently in both quality and ease of use.  The former is definitely assured, surprisingly, whereas the latter is a little iffy for now.

Let me talk about the positives first, however, since there actually are positives to be had here.  Despite my ever-long crusade against Youtube for generally being terrible in doing solely what they seek to do in providing a hub for people to load videos to be watched by other people, the App doesn't seem to suffer much in the delivery aspect.  I search for what I want (this is something to pick about later on actually) when I find it, I touch it, it opens and I can let it load up to however much I desire.  Seeing as my internet is no less shoddy over wireless, I like to let a video load up to at least halfway before I start it, and guess what, the App lets me do this.  This is extremely convenient.  Also convenient is that, if you merely have a Wi-Fi model like myself, you can load up a full video (especially a particularly long one) and watch it over the course of a car (or bus) trip.  You'll lose internet connection, of course, but the video is still there for you to watch, provided you don't close the App or something beforehand.  Hitting home to back out and check on something doesn't clear this, from my experience, but, much like a game, you're limited in what you can open whilst having the Youtube App open.

The quality of the videos is nothing to sniff at as well.  While there's not the extensive list of 240, 360, 480, etc for resolutions, there is an HD toggle for videos that offer 720p.  Otherwise, I believe the video simply plays at the highest resolution available (either 360 or 480) which offers quality that is serviceable, if not quite good, for whatever you could hope to watch.  Be it Let's Play Videos or Music videos of Korean girls dancing around and singing in languages you can't understand (or sometimes you can), I can't really fault what I get, even on the Full-screen mode.  Which, I will say that Full-screen is pretty much the only way to watch something.  I feel like the windowed mode with the extra information is useful for the information as well as getting to the next video you might want to watch, but for actually watching a video, it's entirely too little.  Still, it's clearly not the intended usage for the mode, so that's pretty much all that needs to be said about that.  It's there to look at the info box, like a video perhaps, and, as I said already, to aid you in selecting a video to watch next.  That's all well and good, and it's what we'll have to make do with for the moment as, and here is where the negative part starts.

One of the things that the Youtube App does not add is subscription support.  As in, even though you can attach your account to the app for the purposes of accessing your favorite videos as well as the ability to like/dislike, that's about all the functionality offered.  I imagine this is a result of the rampant troubles Youtube as a whole has with the whole subscription thing, where videos simply won't show up in subscription lists (which is, of course, definitely not a result of the several revisions the entire service has received, no siree) and is just generally not helpful for its one and only purpose.  It tries to make up for this by marking some videos new and throwing them in your Recommended list, which is what the Star icon is for, but if you want something approaching precision in knowing just when your favorite youtuber has uploaded their latest video, this is not something that will facilitate that with ease.  A combination of checking when that person tweets that they have uploaded a video (through LiveTweet) as well as the search function in the youtube app will function, but it's not ideal.  And I doubt there will really be a fix for this in the future, as the subscription thing is just generally not something that works all-around.

In reality, that's kind of the big downfall of the app and it's a pretty big one if you intended to use the Vita as your Youtube 'station' as it were, since you just don't know if you're up-to-date on stuff.  When you have several people you're subscribed to who release several videos daily, this quickly becomes an issue.  But regardless, with the history tab, you can generally keep tabs on what you've seen and use that as a gauge and try to work it that way, but it's really not ideal.  Still, the point is having this way to watch videos and as I said, it does that fantastically.  I think it and Netflix are about on par in terms of visuals (of course, there's a margin for error or what have you with youtube since they have some 240p videos kicking around) and that's really no small claim.  It's a nice world in which we can pretend that the app will get any post-release support at all, but actually believing it is another matter.

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