April 22, 2013
YouTube offers more videos online than any other site. Unfortunately, discovering new videos through the YouTube website hasn’t always been an easy task. And those ads? Sometimes they can get annoying. “It’s About Time Products” has introduced a new Mac application called Play+ for YouTube. It includes a number of unique features that could mean never having to visit YouTube through a Web browser again. Play+ for YouTube looks a lot like the official apps for the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. This is deliberate, says CEO Saied G, who told AppAdvice that his team wanted to create a “familiar experience” for users. On this point, they got it right. Not only is Play+ for YouTube easy to use, but it also organizes content into categories most likely to interest the masses. These include most viewed, music, comedy, trailers, and tech news. Users can also search for videos, and mark the ones they like the best. Additionally, Play+ keeps a running list of every video a user has viewed, regardless of where that first occurred. This feature is activated when the history button is selected, and Google login credentials are entered. Once a video is selected to view, the fun truly begins. Unlike YouTube’s own site, Play+ shows comments right next to the video in a scrolling format. This means that a user can read and write comments without missing any part of the video. Nearly 80 percent of videos in Play+ are presented in HMTL5, rather than Flash, format. This, according to G, means that you’ll see fewer ads and banners. My tests did confirm this. Of the 20 videos I viewed, none contained an advertisement before it. Play+ also hides annotations automatically, which is also a plus. Finally, Play+ is a responsive application. This means that a user can make it any size up to fullscreen format. Personally, this was my favorite feature since it adds flexibility to the video viewing experience. As a version 1.0 release, Play+ is close to being absolutely amazing. However, it does come with some minor hiccups that will hopefully be addressed in a future update. For one, I had to verify my Google account each time the application was restarted. This isn’t a deal breaker for me since I rarely leave comments on YouTube, or check my video history and favorites. However, for those that do, this could prove annoying. In addition, while G’s claims that videos load faster in Play+ compared to the website are true, loading that very first video on each restart seems to take a little bit more time than the others. Therefore, I would suggest that users take a deep breath before clicking the “play” button on that first video. It should also be noted that Play+ is incompatible with the third-party Perian QuickTime component. As a result, on Macs where this is installed, Play+ videos will only run in fullscreen format. This issue only affects a small number of users. And luckily, there is already a quick fix available. Finally, some may balk at paying $4.99 for a product that shows videos that are freely available on the Web, and on mobile devices. I agree that this price is too high -- at least for folks that only use YouTube on a limited basis. For everyone else, the application’s special features make it well worth the price, especially when you consider that updates are free. Thankfully, for a limited time, Play+ is available for $1.99. Take a look: Overall, Play+ is a nice product, and one that I expect will get even better with time. It is available for download in the Mac App Store.