iOS 6 beta 4 removes YouTube app from iPhone, iPad -- and that could be a good thing

iPhone and iPad home screens
iPhone and iPad home screens (Image credit: iMore)

iOS 6 beta 4 removes the native YouTube app from the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. This isn't a huge surprise. As we reported back in May, Apple is apparently going to use iOS 6 to remove as much of Google as possible from their mobile operating system. Access to iOS user data is hugely valuable to Google, and Apple doesn't want Google having that kind of competitive advantage. That's why Apple has gone to the trouble of building their own native iOS 6 maps app, that's why they're using Siri to intermediate and broker queries away from Google, and it could also be why the YouTube app is gone from the iOS Home screen.

9to5 Mac caught wind of the removal almost immediately, and other sites are reporting it now as well. But here's the thing -- it might not be entirely bad news. It might even be good news.

iOS YouTube was introduced after Apple first showed off the iPhone but before it launched in 2007. Back then, getting video on mobile was by no means and easy task. Times have changed. Flash on mobile was attempted and failed. H.264 video has become far more prominent. The iOS YouTube app is no longer needed. or a dedicated Google YouTube app would far better serve Apple and Google users.

Frankly, the ongoing animosity between Apple and Google has lead to iOS having substantially worse Google-powered apps than Android. While Apple and Google argued over turn-by-turn and Latitude, Android got better and better maps. The iOS YouTube app also lagged behind the Android YouTube app to such a degree many simply switched to using the Google web app instead.

Removing the Google-powered apps from the built-in apps -- apps that only get updated when Apple updates the entire iOS firmware stack, if Apple chooses to include them in that update -- would let Google update them themselves, hopefully faster and more frequently. (Which is why Apple already releases many of their own apps into the App Store instead of bundling them with iOS, and Google has decoupled some of their apps from the core Android OS and moved them into Google Play.)

If Google releases proper Google Maps and YouTube apps into the iOS App Store, due to past federal scrutiny, it would be hard if not impossible for Apple to reject them. It would also allow Google to be Google, and Apple to be Apple, and let iOS users to once again enjoy the best of both worlds.

(Just please, Google, don't make it a thin UIWebView wrapper around the mobile YouTube site. If you release a YouTube app -- and I really hope you do -- make it as good if not better than your much-improved Google+ for iOS app.)

Update: Apple has issued a The Verge concerning the removal of the built-in YouTube app from iOS 6 beta 4:

Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.

That's certainly interesting language, as is Apple issuing a public statement on an NDA beta.

Update 2: For those asking about the Apple TV YouTube app, which doesn't have an App Store or 3rd party apps, the answer could well be AirPlay.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Great article.
  • Really good article google is making a YouTube app and I join you in saying it better not be UIWebView wrapper around the mobile YouTube site.
  • I agree, i think this is one of those things where people will cry that apple is being a sore loser by removing the app, but the current app doesnt even support HQ video! let alone HD video. I, like many others, created an icon on my homescreen that goes to because the experience is 100 times better.
  • I hope Google makes a good app. Of all the Google services, Youtube is used the most by my family. Nice source of entertainment for the kids.
  • "Back then, getting video on mobile was by no means and easy task" Please correct to "an easy task" , after all , you are the CHIEF :) Now on to the topic. who would miss the you tube app? I use youtube all the time on my iOS devices but never use the app. I have a icon on my home screen and use that cause it is a lot faster and much more relible than the built in app :)
  • You do know that you shouldn't comment on grammatical errors when your own post is riddled with them. It doesn't make you look smart, it makes you look like a troll. I'm just saying the pot shouldn't call the kettle black :)
  • I kindly pointed out a minor typo. I am not a professional article writer with the title Chief-Editor ;) I think it makes the site look more professional , that's all . Now care to point out my riddled grammar errors? Let's see how smart you are , troll jr ! ;)
  • Guess I'll have to make a mobile YouTube web app icon to go with my mobile Google Maps web app icon. They work well enough but obviously standalone apps would be preferable. Come on, Google, hurry up with those standalone Google Maps and YouTube apps!
  • I prefer (and just used) the app. But whatever.
  • Did you try the mobile link ? It loads up MUCH faster !
  • STOP TRYING TO CHANGE ME! No, I'll have to check it out some time.
  • I believe this is going to hurt Ios users in the long run. Maybe not today maybe not tomorrow but there will come a day when google will no longer value our data or simply wont need it and when google pulls these services we will see just what sort of foundation apple is built on. Or maybe they will do it just to spite us hope neither the former or latter will ever take place.
  • Google needs iOS more than iOS needs Google. Ads on iOS generate more money for Google than all of Android. Do the math.
  • You sure about that? Or are you just throwing that around without facts? And if you read my comment i was referring to the future when things such as these might change....
  • As long as I can still see Youtube on my iPhone and iPad, I don't care if I have to do it via the browser or an app but let it please be better than the current app.
  • Google is only good with search, phones for apple and email for homail and their amazing new upgrade outlook, I wish that youtube still sprated company from google!!!!!
  • I use safari already but i'd guess the majority don't for this. It's an app world. Problem solved as google can do better without it being integrated.
  • Ideally, Apple would finally allow us to specify handlers, but that seems like a pipe dream, so, in the absence of that, what is the default behavior for a youtube:// scheme?
  • Ooh. Good point.
  • Re: "... the answer could well be AirPlay." And AirPlay could well be the answer that Apple is looking for in their efforts to get the TV networks to get on board Apple's long-term television solution. It's probably why CBS is more or less in talks with Apple right now.
  • The YouTube on the phone, and iPad, as well as the iPod Touch, sopped being a decent feature some time ago. Most videos were not in HD, and you could not search current, or updated videos of an artist. The web was much better, and had all the features. Yes, I would agree this is a good thing.
  • I agree with you, but why couldn't this go until the official end of iOS 5/or until Google made apps in the store. I use the YouTube app A LOT, I understand in the long run that both Google and iOS users with have a better experience with this but they should have an app in the App Store first. And when is Apple going to fix the re direct to the Apple maps app instead of the mobile google maps into Safari? I wish both parties thought of this and consider us Beta testers who pay $99 a year.
  • Oh no! To be honest, I loved the YouTube app and used it everyday! Google will make a terrible battery-drainer app! I can't believe! Tim Cook, I'm very disappointed!
  • i hope it's better then their first attempt at a gmail app. haven't been impressed with google apps honestly.
  • If Apple is telling the truth and their contract with Google in regards to YouTube on iOS already expired, does this mean that they will remove the YouTube app. from Apple TV ?
  • More than likely when Apple TV gets bumped up to iOS6.
  • If the iOS version of Youtube was so bad compared to Android's app, you can't blame Google this time. Apple developed and maintained it, so it was up to them to match any features or functionality of other versions. I admit I have been using the app in preference to the native Safari site, but from the sounds of it I'm missing out!
  • "Flash on mobile was attempted and failed" Not even close, dying maybe but "C'mon son."