YouTube just went live with its own iOS app, bringing advanced features like social sharing, access to the site’s channel guide as well as tens of thousands of previously unavailable music videos to the iPhone. The application replaces a system app developed by Apple that won’t be part of iOS 6. It is optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch, but iPad fans won’t have to wait much longer: “We are working on the iPad app,” said YouTube’s head of mobile Andrey Doronichev when I asked him about tablet support last week.
One of the app’s most notable new features, if you can call it that, are ads. Launching its own app means that YouTube can now monetize its videos on the iPhone. For YouTube, this means making more money with mobile: The site also announced Tuesday that it now clocks 1 billion mobile views every single day. For more on YouTube’s mobile strategy, check out my conversation with Youtube Director of Product Management Shiva Rajaraman at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco next week.
The flip side of having ads on the iPhone is that videos from major labels and other big publishers, which had opted out of the previous, ad-free app, are now available on iOS. Doronichev told me that this move unlocks “tens of thousands of pretty popular videos.”
Other features include easier sharing through Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as the ability to leave comments on a video while you’re still watching it. YouTube’s iOS app also supports AirPlay mirroring, and Doronichev said that there are plans to bring second-screen functionality for additional devices to the app as well.
The iPhone app doesn’t look exactly like YouTube’s Android app, but it includes most of its features, with a few notable exceptions: YouTube recently introduced pre-caching of videos on Android, making it possible to download HD versions of your video subscriptions which can then be watched on the go. The same thing is not possible on iOS because it requires the app to run in the background, explained Doronichev.
The Google-developed app will replace Apple’s own YouTube application, which won’t be included in iOS 6 anymore, and has received few updates over the years. Apple said last month that its licensing agreement with Google to build a YouTube app has run out. Taking over the development of the app will mean that users won’t have to wait all that long for updates anymore, said Doronichev. “We will be able to innovate and roll out new features more frequently,” he told me, adding: “It’s going to be a big change for users.”