Until today, I didn’t really see any significance from Apple removing the default YouTube app from iOS. I hardly ever used it, it was always hidden away in a folder, and, as a regular Reddit user, I never really visit YouTube for original content anymore.
This doesn’t apply to my sister, however.
My sister, who just started kindergarten, sees YouTube in a completely different light. If given the chance, she’ll play with the app for long bursts throughout the day. It’s this wonderful middle-ground between a TV show, movie, and game — with no ads and bite-sized videos she gets to control.
She’s able to transition from a video showing Cars toys, to a video with baby puppies running around on the screen. And, all are just a few minutes long. If she finds one she likes, she can share it with those near her or save to watch later.
The first word she learned how to spell? She learned it looking for a video on Youtube. And, to zero-in on content, she can add “baby” before a type of animal or add a “2” to the end of “Cars” to differentiate between the movies.
This is her version of Reddit, or Digg, or even Ebaum’s World (from pre-YouTube times), but it’s never more than a tap away. If she gets tired of videos, she can just switch back to games, or movies, or play with actual toys.
I also think it helps that the app isn’t skeumorphic in any way. It’s plain, and simple, and usable. She ignores the ratings, and crappy comments, and everything else that doesn’t apply to the videos.
The ability to skip ahead by dragging the wheel must feel like magic, too. Kids don’t get to control much in their surroundings, but she has complete freedom to zero-in on funny parts of videos that she loves — and absolutely nothing gets in her way.
I didn’t have anything like this when I was little. VHS was clumsy and I loved video games, but Ebaum’s World wasn’t really popular until I was approaching middle school — and then I only focused on funny videos of people doing stupid things. She gets to experience something with YouTube that I never really had.
And now, presumably, Google will come out with its own version of a YouTube app for iOS 6 focused on sharing to Google+, and advertising, and all the unnecessary crap that my sister doesn’t really want. She’s going to have to transition from something easy, and useful, and fun, to something that’s most likely subpar and not as good as an older version.
Maybe it’s less about an “Instagram for video” and more about a “YouTube for YouTube.”