Apple released the fourth Developer beta of iOS 6 today, and among a few performance tweaks was a startling omission first discovered by 9to5Mac: the native YouTube app that has shipped with iOS since version 1 has disappeared. And according to Apple, it won’t be coming back.
While many initially assumed this was a beta bug, Apple quickly confirmed that the native YouTube app will not be built-in to iOS 6 when it launches publicly in the Fall. Speaking to The Verge, an Apple spokesperson explained that their license to include a YouTube app with iOS has expired, and that Google is working on a new official YouTube app for the App Store.
“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended…”
Interestingly, the YouTube app will not be removed from any previous version of iOS, leading many to wonder if licensing is the real reason behind YouTube’s removal. AllThingsD speculates that Google wants to get ads in front of YouTube users on iOS, as they already do with the official VEVO app, and could do with YouTube if they were to build the app themselves. In fact, a Google made YouTube app may end up being good news for iOS users; Google will be able to ensure feature parity with the Android version and update it as they please (something Apple hasn’t done since the original iPhone launched in 2007). Of course, Apple seems dead set on removing all Google services from iOS, having already announced they will replace Google Maps with an in-house alternative in iOS 6, and this would seem to be the logical next step in that process.
Whatever the real reason, for now, iPhone users will be forced to use Google’s YouTube web app until the new official YouTube app hits the App Store. Whenever that may be.
UPDATE: Peter Kafka of AllThingsD received this fairly vague statement from YouTube: “We are working with Apple to make sure we have the best possible YouTube experience for iOS users.”