Yesterday Google started a phased rollout for a new version of the YouTube app on Android taking the version number up to 5.3. Immediately noted in the update were some slight changes to the user interface. However, digging into the apk for the update revealed several new features that appear to be on the horizon for YouTube including the framework for the YouTube subscription service, an offline video mode, some background music listening options, and “uninterrupted playback.”
Sources have indicated in the past that YouTube is in the process of developing a subscription service, although it has not been clear what that might involve. Included in the apk for the latest update are references to “Music Pass” which appears to be the commercial name for this new service. According to several strings included in the code, the new service will give users the ability to play back music even when offline, to keep listening to music while other apps are being used, and no ads popping up during music playback.
With regard to the offline playback, that may not be limited to just music or music videos that are accessed as part of the Music Pass option. It looks like Google is building in the ability for users to tag videos for download to a local cache for offline playback. Some of the code seems to hint at uploaders being able to specify their videos will not be eligible for download and thus, offline playback. It also looks like a time limit will be imposed, like 48 hours, for users to watch their downloaded content. It is not clear whether this feature will be available to any YouTube user or only those who opt for a paid subscription.
The apk also included some miscellaneous bits that appear to be included to help handle problems with playback and to create playlists, possibly generated by YouTube, and to set choices to shuffle. There is also a reference to an “exo player” that remains a mystery at this point.
The general impression of the inclusion of these options in the build is that YouTube is poised to compete with services like Pandora or Spotify or even with Google’s own Play Music service.
source: Android Police