YouTube launches low-bandwidth version for India

The app allows video downloads at different resolutions

Google rolled out Wednesday a version of its YouTube video sharing app that is targeted at users who do not have robust internet connections.

The beta version of the YouTube Go app is available on the Google Play Store in India. It offers data saving features like the ability to preview videos before the user saves and watches, and a choice of resolutions when saving or streaming videos. YouTube has also tried to emphasize the social aspect of the app by letting users share video with others.

The low-bandwidth version app of YouTube has seen many avatars, including YouTube Offline, launched by Google in 2014, which let users download and watch video offline. A variant, Smart Offline, was launched in June with a feature that allowed scheduled saving of videos during times when data is cheaper, such as at nights.

The product is far from complete. “While the app is in its beta release, we’ll continue to listen to your feedback and improve the app before launching more broadly,” wrote Jay Akkad, product manager at YouTube, in a blog post. The app was launched in a limited beta covering some 60,000 users in February, a Google spokesman said.

Google announced in September low-bandwidth versions of some of its popular products like Chrome. Some of the technologies that Google has developed for India have found use in other markets. Its offline version of Maps, called Maps Offline, which lets users download a map to their phone to navigate around town without a data connection, is in use in some areas of the U.S. and Europe where data connections are patchy.

India with a large population of over 1.3 billion has emerged as a key target for a number of technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple. The aggressive debut of deep-pocketed operator Reliance Jio, which offered free 4G services for about six months, has also also helped push data costs down across the board.

WhatsApp may be introducing a person-to-person payment service in India in the next six months, according to news site The Ken.

Some evidence of this move comes from a job posting on the WhatsApp website for a Digital Transactions Lead, India, who is expected to be familiar with payment systems and interfaces introduced recently by the Indian government. WhatsApp said India is an important country for it, “and we're understanding how we can contribute more to the vision of Digital India,” but it didn’t confirm the report about launching the payment system in India.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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