The YouTube App was released on the PS Vita last week, making millions of video clips available from the video sharing site. YouTube compatibility on the PS Vita was something that was lacking on the PS Vita since launch, especially since the device doesn’t support Adobe Flash. Here are our impressions of the app in its current state, and what can be improved.
The YouTube App is a welcomed addition to the PS Vita’s line-up of apps, but it falls short in some areas. Hopefully it can be salvaged through future updates to the app.
The 5MB app can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store (only available in countries that YouTube supports), and installs in a matter of minutes (depending on your Internet connection). After booting up the app, you are able to browse and watch videos instantly – without the need to sign-up or login to your account.
If you want to sign-in to your account, the option can be found by clicking and selecting [Sign-in]. The [Browser] will open and prompt you to sign-in to your Google / YouTube account to continue. Signing-in will let you access your YouTube favourites so you can access them on the go, and also let you rate, comment and favourite videos.
One thing you may notice straight away is that you cannot have other apps open in the background, e.g. games. This makes sense in a way, since processing video is a CPU intensive job, and the PS Vita won’t be able to handle multiple apps running at the same time. However, it does mean you can search for video walkthroughs on the device while you play games.
The first thing you’ll notice after downloading the 5MB app from the PlayStation Store, either through the Vita or by way of the PS3, is that it immediately lets you get into YouTube and start watching. But you’ll have to learn how to log into your Google account the hard way. Or maybe I can help.
Watching a video is easy. Either browse or search for a video and simply click on the row to play it. There are two viewing modes available: Full Screen and Small Screen. The Full Screen mode is self-explanatory. It lets you watch the video using the entire PS Vita’s 5″ OLED screen. Clicking on the screen will bring up the menu, allowing you to switch to Small Screen, or return to your video results.
The Small Screen mode lets you rate videos, and also see suggested videos, comments and information about the video, while the video plays in a smaller area of the screen. This view is handy if you want to see what others have said about the video of if you want to read the video information.
Unfortunately, you can only view videos from within the YouTube App. Clicking on YouTube links in the Browser or in LiveTweet, for example, doesn’t launch the app. Instead, you go to the YouTube site and get the “Install Flash” error message you may already be familiar with. If you want to see the video in the app, you’ll have to note down the title and search for it manually in the app instead.
HD Videos have a small “HD” icon on the lower-left of images indicating so. You can switch between HD and Standard modes when viewing Full Screen videos from the menu (the HD icon will be red if HD is enabled). The app supports 720p HD videos or lower resolution only, but the PS Vita’s display is just under 720p HD resolution.
Although the PS Vita lets you record video on the device using either the rear or front-facing camera, the YouTube App doesn’t actually provide any upload functionality yet. This mean you must transfer recorded videos to your PC and upload it via the website. Seeing as Facebook and Flickr apps both let you upload photos, this is a feature that should have been available from the start.
You can’t easily see videos you subscribe to or videos from friends yet. In both cases, you have to manually search for users to find content you subscribe to. Hopefully, a option to view Subscription is added in a future update. You also cannot access your Inbox to see messages from users, and comments on your videos.
There are four icons at the bottom of the YouTube app: Recommended, Search, History, and Favorites. Recommended uses your YouTube account details to recommend videos you may like, while Favourites brings your favourite videos to the PS Vita. History keeps track of Videos you’ve viewed on the device, and Search is a quick way to find what you are looking for.
You can comment on videos and rate videos (using the Thumbs Up / Down buttons), but you won’t find some of the other YouTube features from the website, including the Share button. You also can’t reply to comments like you can on YouTube.com.
The app is fast and responsive as you would expect. Streaming can take a few seconds to start in some cases, but overall is pretty quick. The app lets you take screenshots, however, like else where on the PS Vita, they take a few seconds to save. Depending on how many favourite videos you have, these can also take some time to download too.
Naturally, the streaming and downloading of data slows down when using the app on a 3G connection. Where possible, stream HD videos on a Wi-fi connection, and stick to standard definition resolution over 3G to speed up the viewing experience.
The app is great overall, and does the basics well. It’s disappointing that external apps don’t link up with the YouTube App, but hopefully this will change in the near future. The app is stable and makes good use of the PS Vita’s 5″ OLED screen – HD videos look amazing on the device, even if the PS Vita’s screen isn’t true HD resolution. We’re hoping Video Upload functionality is added soon, since this would be a useful feature.
We’re looking forward to seeing what changes future updates will bring to the app. What do you like or don’t like about the app?