What’s Happened To YouTube On iPhone 3G?!!?

Right. I finally fondled the iPhone 3G this morning (see prior post).

One aspect of it really worried me. I know I probably should have asked an Apple Rep, but I had a feeling they might have started pulling out their hair and gnashing their teeth if they saw what I was seeing. It was that bad.

I read earlier this week that Apple has basically grafted its own iTransmogrify feature into the latest version of Safari. Now people can see embedded YouTube videos, click on them, and the YouTube app will launch and play the video.


Ummm … no.

It plays something, but if what I saw can be called video, then what Palm makes can be called supercomputers.

I tried several videos I’ve placed in this blog. Here are the direct YouTube links:

My Smart Car
‘Bourne Identity’ track by Moby
kIM NOVAk / Female Friends

Five vids should be a good testbed, no? And most of them are pretty recent, which means MP4 versions of each should have existed.

Uniformly, in every single instance, the video was horrible!

It was as if I was being sent a 120 x 180 video that was then enlarged. (And that enlargement didn’t go edge-to-edge on the screen; it was centered with a big fat black border all around it!)

It was muddy, it was full of ginormous pixels, and it was an absolute travesty of video.

So what exactly is going on here now?

1) Has YouTube stopped converting FLV to MP4?

2) Has the YouTube app been changed to actually play FLV?

3) Is there any way to make it stop this and play the MP4 version when it’s available?

4) Has AT&T throttled back on YouTube streaming video bandwidth?

If this is the new shape of YouTube on iPhone, Apple has just opened itself up to getting sued by Attorneys General all across this country. You can’t go around showing crystal clear video in TV ads as an example of YouTube and then substitute it with that crap! That’s clear bait and switch as well as misrepresentation and outright fraud.

The iPhone 3G in the upper left was showing: AT&T [five green bars] and a fat 3G icon, so I have to think it was doing all this stuff via 3G and not WiFi. (Speaking of which if that was 3G, what’s the big deal? It’s still a lot slower than WiFi! All you techmemers held your breath and pouted for 3G?!!)

Is there any explanation of this horror? And even if there is, has Steve Jobs himself witnessed this atrocity? You tell me he’s OK with it?

Explore posts in the same categories: Tech - Apple

18 Comments on “What’s Happened To YouTube On iPhone 3G?!!?”

  1. Elena-Beth Kaye Says:

    It seems simple. On the 2G phone, the YouTube app can tell if you are using 2G or WiFi, and then plays a low-res or hi-res video. On your 3G phone, it seems to be making a similar distinction. What happens if you DO switch to WiFi? How do the videos look then?

  2. It’s not okay. I see 12 more people fired.

  3. Eytan Says:

    Unfortuantely, YouTube will still send you the EDGE versions even when you are on 3G and NOT the WiFi versions. I have found that specific applications, Say the MLB at Bat, will detect EDGE, Wifi, and 3G and send you specific versions, with the 3G versions being as good as the WiFi versions – but not so with YouTube. I wonder if the culprit here is Apple AT&T, or Google – I wish I could get the WiFi versions on 3G even if I needed to wait longer to view them….

  4. mikecane Says:

    What’s this about a lo-res version?! In all the times I’ve freeloaded — uhhhh…. studied the iPhone at the Apple Store, I have never, ever had YouTube send anything down the pike other than a gorgeous edge-to-edge MP4 video. When an MP4 wasn’t available — usually when I tried to play something that had been uploaded well before the iPhone was released — YouTube sent nothing except a message saying the video was unavailable. This behavior I’m pointing out is brand new.

  5. Marcos Says:

    Yes, as Eytan said, the YouTube app detects your network connection and sends a version appropriate for your bandwidth. It’s always been this way. Did you ever study the iPhone at the Apple store before and turned off WiFi? There’s definitely multiple bitrate versions of Youtube videos. But they’re all MP4, the iPhone can’t play anything but MPEG4/H264. It’s just a bitrate difference between viewing on Wifi and the cellular network.

    Though, maybe they should make a 3G quality in addition to EDGE

  6. mikecane Says:

    Are you telling me the rest of you have seen something that looks like a 120×160 video blown up?! I wish I had used the crapcam to take a picture.

  7. Marcos Says:

    Yes. Well, EDGE is, what, basically a 56kbps modem at best? So, the youtube app looks like junk on EDGE. Just the way it has to be given the bandwidth limitations. I think the main disappointment would be that the Youtube app treats 3G like EDGE rather than WiFi but this may be a concession to AT&T ala iTunes on the iPhone only on WiFi.

  8. mikecane Says:

    You see, the thing is, on EDGE I’d *never* seen what I saw via 3G! And I’m positive when it was EDGE because I’d asked the Apple Reps.

  9. AdamC Says:

    Mike, since you are so disgusted you can’t view youtube videos the way you like it how about sending me your 3G iPhone and get yourself a Nokia, thanks in advance.

  10. Eytan Says:

    Yes, on EDGE it sends a .3gp version at 160×120, 128K, so as you ca start viewing it without waitig a few minutes….. This has always been the case, and Apple spoke about it when the 1st iPhone came out. It has also talked about and encouraged developers to have multiple bit rates. I fully understand why Google might not want to stock yet a 3rd iPhone bit rate – but they could let us have the WiFi versions for 3G. This is purely something for you to take up with Google – they could detect and send a higher bit-rate.

  11. mikecane Says:

    Well, I just confirmed the 3G crappiness at the Apple Store this morning. Saw YouTube via Wifi, then went to Settings and shut off WiFi, to force it all to 3G. Yecch. I’ve never seen that before and I never, ever recall reading about others seeing that on the EDGE iPhone via EDGE.

  12. Bjorn Einarsson Says:

    well, i don’t have an iPhone but have you tried to add fmt=18 to the youtube url. It will send the mp4 version if it exists.

    I have in Safari this bookmark
    Youtube HIRES javascript:window.location+=”&fmt=18″;
    So try this on Safari on the iPhone
    Maybe this will override the youtube Edge/3G settings
    But this video LadyTron – Ghosts

    is 10 MB as flv and 19 MB as mp4. How much do 19 MB
    cost at AT&T 3G rates?

  13. mikecane Says:

    I don’t think it will work. Safari passes the URL to the YouTube app, which then tells YouTube, “Hey, I’m an iPhone on EDGE, WiFi, or 3G,” so it can send the aprpropriate kind of file.

  14. MPD Ronners Says:

    hey I am not sure if anyone else figured this out but if you install the truveo program from the app store it plays YouTube videos in the correct resolution. Although you may want to let a fair amount buffer before playing or else it gets choppy and out of sync. I was very upset with the low res videos on YouTube over 3g as well so I did a search and found this but then i remembered the truveo app that I installed on the first day and uninstalled afterwards. I am using 3g on the rogers network by the way, but I assume it should be the same everywhere else.

  15. Ed Says:

    in the app environment (via SDK), you can not distinguish between 2g and 3g. You essentially only know if Wifi on/off. Hence, Youtube must be givng 2g/3G users a 2g friendly encode. We ran into the same problem in our app development…

  16. laurence Says:

    i had this problem with my 3g iphone youtube always hangs everything else works aside from youtube, its worst than my old iphone which icansay its faster than 3g, i tried to restore it, chech internet conn, but its hopeless pls help

  17. Gary Says:

    Nup, just tried Truveo and Google YouTubes must be onto it because even though cellular access is on, still can’t play YouTube vuds at all over 3G!

  18. Psolanki Says:

    My iPhone3g YouTube not connectinig it says can not connect to you tube how to start my you tube again I have also done jailbreak please help

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