Part of YouTube’s appeal has always been its community: Someone records a video; others respond with clips on their own; and sooner or later, a meme is born. A new YouTube player app called Desktube now wants to make it even easier to engage in this kind of back-and-forth, by allowing users to instantly record video responses on their Android devices after watching a video.
Desktube, which was released as a free app on the Android Market earlier this month, has a simple premise: It wants to become your Android tablet and phone’s default YouTube player, by being somewhat of a Swiss Army Knife for the Google-owned video site. Today, YouTube’s own Android app comes with limited features, and browsing a web site while on the go isn’t always the best experience. Desktube wants to fill the gap with features like the aforementioned response functionality, as well as access to some other of YouTube’s more advanced features.
Desktube also offers a dedicated group viewing mode for people within the same network. I wasn’t able to test this, but a company spokesperson made it sound by email like this could be lots of fun in dorms or during an office lunch break:
“Group Experience works when two or more users have desktube running while on the same network. When available you can tap to join in. Once you’re connected, all users are in control of what’s playing and everyone watches the same thing… You’re taken to video the group is watching at approximately the same time in the video. This uses peer-to-peer on the local network.”
I was also told that Desktube is working on some advanced social integration, and that an iOS version of the app is coming soon. The company has also released an Adobe Air-based desktop player for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but it comes with fewer features than the mobile version.
The Android version is already accessing some of the more experimental YouTube feeds to surface relevant and trending content that haven’t made it into YouTube’s official app yet, and the company told me that it wants to continue to push the envelope: “We get a chance to innovate on top of a robust platform even if the outcome doesn’t support YouTube’s overall goals as a business, which in the end is better for the users.”
Now, the question is: Would I replace my default YouTube app with Desktube? To be honest, probably not. Desktube looks a little too cluttered for its own good right now, and I’m not all that inclined to record video responses. However, anything that keeps YouTube’s mobile app developers on their feet is a good thing — and avid YouTubers may get a lot more use out of Desktube than I do.
Take a look at a few screenshots of the app below: