Monday, September 4, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The End of ProTube 2

Jonas Gessner (via MacRumors, Hacker News):

I am very sad to announce that ProTube was removed from the App Store by Apple on September 1, 2017. This comes after multiple requests and threats by YouTube which ultimately led Apple to suddenly pulling the app from the App Store. ProTube and many other 3rd party YouTube apps on the App Store have been targeted by YouTube with takedown requests.

YouTube first requested Apple to remove my app well over a year ago, initially just stating that my app violates their Terms of Service. This was a generic takedown request they sent to many YouTube apps at once. They later started going into more detail, even stating that I could not sell the app as that alone violates their ToS. They basically wanted me to remove every feature that made ProTube what it is – that includes the player itself that allows you to play 60fps videos, background playback, audio only mode and more.

[…]

It’s sad that I have to say this, but there have already been dozens of fake ProTube apps on the App Store: I still own the ProTube trademark, so nobody can take advantage of this situation by releasing a fake ProTube app on the App Store.

It seems pretty clear that Gessner was violating the terms of service for the YouTube API. What’s interesting to me here is that instead of just turning off ProTube’s API access, Google asked Apple to remove the app from the App Store. So new customers can’t download it, but people who already purchased can apparently keep using it (in continued violation of the TOS).

Also, I wonder whether it’s possible to make a good YouTube app that doesn’t rely on the API.

4 Comments

>Also, I wonder whether it’s possible to make a good YouTube app that doesn’t rely on the API.

No.

Anything that would make a YouTube app useful and relevant to how people actually use YouTube is not allowed.

@Lukas Are they purposely doing stuff to defeat scraping? Or is a lot of info just not available publicly without the API?

"Are they purposely doing stuff to defeat scraping? Or is a lot of info just not available publicly without the API?"

I've refrained from ever mentioning this to avoid publicly, as I don't want to see it shut down or otherwise defeated, but a I use a free desktop Mac app to download YouTube videos, (which I won't name to avoid publicity.) Given that this app has been functional and regularly updated for years, I strongly assume there is info out there to scrape without the API.

As far as I can tell, YouTube *is* making changes intended to make scrapers' lives harder. Tools that scrape YouTube (e.g. youtube-dl on github) break regularly, and get updated almost daily.

I think the politics here are kind of complex. It's not necessarily that YouTube doesn't want to allow people to create these apps, it's that YouTube puts itself into danger by being seen as endorsing these kinds of apps. For example, a lot of kids use YouTube as a kind of free Spotify. But YouTube forbids apps from working like Spotify, and using YouTube as their backend (e.g. ProTube 2's background playback and audio only mode). I think this is in large parts due to YouTube protecting itself from the companies who hold the rights to these songs, and probably also protecting Google's own music services.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment