Google will finally allow YouTube users to download and store videos so that they can watch them on their mobile device, even when they aren’t connected to the site’s servers.
The company detailed the feature in a new post on YouTube’s Creators Blog. Although the new feature will allow users to download videos for offline viewing, the company’s post on the feature makes it clear that users will not be able to store and watch videos in offline mode indefinitely. Instead users will only be allowed to, “add videos to their device to watch for a short period when an internet connection is unavailable.” Unfortunately, the blog post doesn’t define what the new feature will consider a “short period.”
Google is also intentionally setting expectations for where users will have access to the feature. The wording in its blog post clearly mentions that this feature is only intended to roll out to users of YouTube’s mobile applications, those being YouTube on iOS and YouTube on Android. That means users on desktop platforms like Windows and Mac OS still won’t be allowed to download videos for offline viewing since both of those platforms rely on YouTube’s website.
It’s likely that the company is drawing the line between desktop PCs and mobile to prevent the widespread downloading of videos stored on YouTube from desktop PCs. Until now, the company has been careful about enabling YouTube video downloads at all. In fact, Google claims that one of the reasons it refused approve Microsoft’s YouTube application for Windows Phone was because it enabled users to download videos offline, violating the site’s Terms of Services. So far, the two companies have yet to come to agreement on the application itself.
Depending on the time users can store videos for offline viewing, the feature could be a boon for YouTube users who’ve always had to stay tethered to an internet connection or violate the company’s Terms of Service using third-party applications to copy videos.
Google says that users can expect the feature to launch with new app updates for YouTube for Android and YouTube for iOS sometime this November.