The answer to that question depends on how important video quality is to you. If you're like me and tend to play YouTube videos with your phone in your pocket, listening to the audio while you walk your dogs (named Camas and Sammy - ok, so you don't have to be exactly like me) then the native iPhone app is probably just as good if not better still.
The new home page of the mobile web app takes on the familiar look of the Facebook iPhone app - the grid of various options. YouTube emphasizes that there are many things you can do on the regular web site that you can now do on the mobile version, like playlist creation. The iPhone app already allows you to add videos you discover to a playlist, and I'm not sure how important it is to be able to "like" or "unlike" videos from your phone.
In my world, here are the pros and cons of the new mobile web page.
- It looks very nice and apparently there more videos you can view. I've almost never found a video I couldn't view on the iPhone app, though.
- Updates are easier for YouTube to push, since it's a web app - not a downloaded app. We'll see what comes of that.
- You can now post and read comments on the mobile web interface. This is something you can do on the iPad version of the Apple YouTube app, but at least on my old 3G iPhone, comments are out of the picture. That is a real win for the web app. Update: No, I was wrong - comment viewing and posting is available on the iPhone app.
Right: My dogs are unimpressed. "Just load the darned video and let's walk already, ok?" Photo obviously taken with a crappy old iPhone 3G, though, so what do I know about what I'm missing.
- The view of your subscriptions doesn't include a "river of news" view - the ability to see what videos are new from across all the channels you're subscribed to. Subscribing to publishers is key in getting the most out of YouTube and the newest videos display option on the iPhone app is the best way to keep track of your subscriptions. This seems like an oversight that the web app team should overcome in short order.
- The web app doesn't include your personal viewing history. It's nice to be able to go back and find a video you watched simply by looking at your personal viewing history. That is an option on the iPhone app, it is not on the mobile web app.
- Sharing doesn't include options to send to Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz or anywhere - just email. That's the case with both of these interfaces, and it's frustrating. When I finish a good video mid dogwalk- I want an easy way to share it with social network friends while still on my phone.
TechCrunch has a good write up of the technical accomplishments and political tension between Apple and Google as far as these apps are concerned, but as a user - my heart remains unwon by the new mobile web interface. The differences are relatively minimal but the native app feels more solid. It's ugly as sin, but it feels like a stable utility. That's what it is for me. I came to get the content and I get it just fine with the iPhone app.
YouTube said today that YouTube Mobile sees 100 million video playbacks a day (unclear on whether this includes the iPhone app) and so little changes are a big deal. What do you think of these updates? Are you going to switch apps for consuming YouTube on the go?