Friday, February 13, 2015


The most reliable way to download YouTube videos on an Android phone

There are a plethora of Android apps that claim to be able to 'manage' your YouTube downloads. I must have tried the vast majority of them, and all they've managed to do for me so far is slice decades off my lifespan!

Google, who - news flash! - own YouTube, don't approve of you snagging their videos for offline playback, which is why you won't find any apps in their store that are specifically engaged with expediting this. Sure there are generic video-grabbing tools that allegedly work with YouTube, but they don't make a big song and dance about it so sail by under the radar. To install the likes of TubeMate or YouTube Downloader from Dentex you have to go rogue; by downloading an .apk file from a 'scary', non-Google source and installing it - eek! - manually using an app-installing gizmo (which, ironically, you can find in the Google store).

I wouldn't waste your time. TubeMate comes bundled with the infuriating 'MP3 Video Converter', and won't function without it. Every time a video finishes being transferred, it undergoes a mandatory conversion process via said 'helper' app and throws an FYI dialogue message in your face to inform you of its progress. Rather than work silently in the background, it rudely interrupts whatever you happen to be doing at the time, forcing you to revert back to your running-tasks screen to pick up where you left off. It's like an attention-seeking RADA brat desperately trying to justify its own existence. Why it's even necessary in the first place I can't fathom because other apps of this ilk don't insist on it; they appear to download files from Google's servers 'as-is'. Their goal is to bypass the obfuscation of the YouTube interface, allowing you to access the contents directly, nothing more.

The next best (or least worst!) alternative to TubeMate is the app from Dentex. In comparison, it comes equipped with a sleek, user-friendly and much more polite interface. Problem is, it doesn't friggin' work! It tells you downloads are queued, and then doesn't bother starting them once the previous transfer has finished. It pauses downloads and then won't awaken them even if you beg and plead with it. It flounders when asked to re-download failed videos that have stalled. There's a 'clear dashboard' option, that supposedly wipes the slate clean if items have become stuck in the queue. Guess what? That doesn't achieve anything either. Completely waste of bytes.

My solution? Forget the apps-for-apps'-sake detritus and copy URLs into a YouTube video-raiding web service like SaveFrom or KeepVid instead. It's all a bit manual of course, but it does get the job done simply and efficiently without all the false status-reporting.

If you want to make use of the resume feature should your downloads be interrupted, try pairing your URL-forager site with a reputable download manager like ADM Downloader. Either copy and paste the links into the app manually, or open your web sites in the integrated browser rather than Chrome, enabling ADM to capture the movie or audio files from your clipboard.

Reinventing the wheel is pointless if it ends up square!