YouTube Go app aims to improve viewing in India with new offline features

Google's effort to make the web more accessible across the globe has spurred a lightweight YouTube app for India.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor on
(Image: YouTube)

YouTube announced on Tuesday a new app called YouTube Go that aims to improve India smartphone users' access to videos on slow network connections, part of Google's broader effort to make the internet more accessible across the globe.

The Google-owned video giant said YouTube Go is designed to be offline first and can work with low or no connectivity. YouTube Go will first launch to Android users in India and will gradually roll out to more users over the next few months, the company said.

Users will not only be able to save videos for offline viewing, but can choose the amount of data to spend on a video if streamed instantly rather than offline, later. The app will offer low bandwidth previews of videos, which could save users on their monthly data allotment.

Johanna Wright, VP of product management at YouTube, wrote in a blog post that development of the YouTube Go app was inspired by a trip to India and experiencing the slow 2G connections and phones that are widespread throughout the country.

In addition to being quicker, YouTube Go features a social network that allows users to share videos with other users without using any data, through direct Wi-Fi.

"In an increasingly mobile-first world, India gives us early insights into the future of the Internet," Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in wrote in The Economic Times on Tuesday. "Moreover, we learned the issues Indians may have with connectivity and data constraints can be universal."

Google has been charging towards connecting the rest of the globe that lacks solid connection to the internet. Part of efforts to improve web properties and apps to be more data cognizant, Google has begun testing internet-beaming balloons through its Project Loon in remote parts of the world.

Google announced early Tuesday a new initiative called Google Station that aims to bring fast Wi-Fi hotspots to public spaces worldwide.

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