iOS 6's launch will be remembered for two Google-related issues: Apple's horrible, horrible Google Maps replacement, and the YouTube app's mysterious disappearance. The former is in the process of being transformed into something useful – albeit with reports of hitches still cropping up even today – while the latter has reappeared as a slick app that does a fine job of replicating the desktop YouTube experience.
The freshness is evident from the moment the new YouTube app is downloaded to your iPad. The logo now features the official, familiar white, black, and red affair with which we're familiar, not the odd television icon that served the original.
The new design now closely mirrors YouTube's desktop design – more so the previous layout than the recently released fresh desktop look. YouTube for iPad features a black sidebar – revealed when you swipe the home screen video river from left to right – that displays the channels to which you're subscribed as well as content categories like Popular, Film & Animation, Music, and more.
A drop-down menu grants access to your viewing history, purchases, favourites, and other familiar YouTube areas. In short, YouTube loses very little in translation from website to mobile app.
The YouTube for iPad experience
The main river contains a mix of videos pulled from your subscriptions as well as recommended titles based on your viewing history. A search box lives just north of it, and there's also a microphone icon which when tapped lets you perform voice searches – and it works well. Result pages let you toggle between videos and related channels, which aids in terms of the overall content discovery experience.
Videos not only start up quickly, but stream smoothly, too. I experienced very little in the way of buffering hiccups. Like desktop YouTube, the video repository's mobile app lets you vote clips up and down, leave comments, flag videos, or add them to Watch Later, Favourites, and Playlists.
You cannot, however, select the video resolution or the intermediary "large" video size that's pitched somewhere between the default YouTube video size and full screen. AirPlay support let me stream content from the app to an Apple TV box when they were connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
My major gripe with YouTube for iPad is that there's some content that you can only access via the desktop web browser. Beck's "Gamma Ray" video – the colourful bizarre one featuring Chloe Sevigny doing her best go-go dancer impression, not the black and white version – cannot be found using the app.
Mobile Safari, on the other hand, displays the result, but also mentions that the video uploader doesn't want the video to appear on mobile devices. That's not YouTube's fault, but it is something that should be noted.
So, should you tune into YouTube for iPad? If you spend any amount of time with the world's largest video repository, the answer is yes. YouTube for iPad manages to capture most of what makes YouTube work. Granted, it's missing some content and options, but it's still a very capable video application that's well worth a download.