At present, many users are familiar with viewing YouTube content on their Android devices and will testify that it is not a particular joyful process, with many compromises in ease of use or functionality. So, it was welcome news this week when a YouTube Android Player API was pre-announced at Google I/O. Whilst a full, more detailed announcement is expected soon, the good news is that the API is already available for use.
So what difference will it make? Well at the moment, each of the ways in which YouTube content can be viewed or displayed has its drawbacks. The first, a browser plugin/flash based embed does not enable access to the YouTube player API and suffers when there is no flash. The second method opens via an instruction in the YouTube app itself. The drawback of this is that it removes users from the initial application in order to view the YouTube content. Lastly, using IFrame based embed, whilst allowing access to the player API’s is not supported on the older versions of Android.
So, let us see how the new API will improve the experience. Well in a nutshell, the new API will provide a full YouTube video experience, with enhanced quality and ease of use, allowing users to view YouTube content without leaving the original application. Many are shouting that this integration has been a long time coming and a very necessary step too, mainly due to the sheer volume of content shared via YouTube and with users often complaining about the need to leave applications.
The API is suitable for use with Android on mobiles, tablets and Google TV. Integration has been made easy, with basic coding to integrate videos in just three lines! The API has automatic support for full screen change of orientation, adjusts the quality of the stream according to the strength of network connection and even offers support for paid content.
There are actually several YouTube API’s, alongside a collection of tools. The ones more likely to be used are the Player API and Data API.
The Data API provides what you will need to program a device or server-side logic for a website. If you need to search for videos, related content or retrieve standard feeds, the Data API provides everything you need. You will also be able to modify user playlists, authenticate a user to upload video and giving you the means to work programmatically with the video and user information stored on YouTube.
Google has put together a number of client libraries that will make working with the API easier, that abstract the API into a language-specific object model, including Java, NET, PHP and Python.