App of the day: YouTube RT review (Windows 8)
Windows 8 is a solid enough operating system. It is hated by some because it's a radical visual departure, but the ideas behind it are solid enough. New users, and those who want an uncomplicated experience can have a good time, thanks to the full-screen apps that are part of the new ecosystem. The problem is, in all the time Windows 8 has been out, we haven't really used any, apart from Netflix, and now one other.
This one is called YouTube RT and it opens up a world of YouTube watching that goes beyond the website, and gives a much more pleasant and flexible interface to Google's video product.
- Windows 8 and RT
- £2.19 (free trial available)
- Windows Store
So what makes YouTube RT so special? Well, it's well laid-out for one. To get the best out of it you need to log-in to your YouTube account. This populates the home screen with the videos YouTube thinks you should watch. This is nice, and it means you don't need to faff about going to the YouTube site. And, as with all Windows 8 apps, if you start typing from the Start screen, you can quickly get to YouTube results by selecting YouTube RT from the right-hand menu.
There are other nice features too. For example, we love that you can force it to use 1080p, 720p or SD videos. YouTube doesn't seem able to remember your preference with this for some reason, so we like the ability to lock in this selection, as we always want to watch HD video.
We also love that you can download video. Now, we realise that this might be a contentious issue, and could even be a fracturing of some copyright or other, but it's actually very helpful. It's handy for saving videos to take when you go offline for a short period. It's also handy if you're on a connection that's not quick enough to stream at HD quality, but you're prepared to wait for it to download. No doubt rights-holders will despise this, but we don't and we can see its value. It's also possible to download audio only as MP3s, which is another great feature for music fans.
Just because this is an app, there's no need to compromise on the features. Usually, YouTube comments aren't available on third-party apps, but they are here, and you can also add comments - all while the video plays away in the top corner. Sure, YouTube has some of the most ridiculous comments ever, but it also has some of the funniest. So it's worth being able to see them. The comments aren't threaded, but they still make a lot more sense than the mess of YouTube.com. You will also have access to your playlists, favourites and uploads, giving you a very likeable experience that's as comprehensive as the website.
In conclusion, if you have a Windows 8 device - or more than one - then YouTube RT is well worth the two quid-ish that it costs. It's an app we are happy to have paid for, and an app that we'll use loads. It's just a shame Google couldn't have managed something similar.