Apple Pulls Popular Third-Party YouTube App 'ProTube' From the App Store

Hugely popular third-party YouTube app "ProTube" was quietly removed from the App Store by Apple last week. Apple's decision to pull the app followed several takedown requests from Google that were received by the app's developer.

ProTube was hailed by users during its three-year reign for several features either not available in the official YouTube app or not offered by other third-party apps, such as the ability to play videos in 4K at 60 frames per second, background playback, and an audio-only mode. Over its lifetime, the $5 app reached number 1 in the paid app charts in 11 different countries and the top 10 in 57 countries.


In a statement on his website, developer Jonas Gessner said he was "very sad to announce that ProTube was removed from the App Store by Apple on September 1, 2017". The action reportedly came "after multiple requests and threats by YouTube which ultimately led Apple to suddenly pulling the app from the App Store", said Gessner.
YouTube first requested Apple to remove my app well over a year ago, initially just stating that my app violates their Terms of Service. This was a generic takedown request they sent to many YouTube apps at once. They later started going into more detail, even stating that I could not sell the app as that alone violates their ToS. They basically wanted me to remove every feature that made ProTube what it is – that includes the player itself that allows you to play 60fps videos, background playback, audio only mode and more.

Without those features ProTube would not be any better than YouTube's own app, and that is exactly what they want to achieve. YouTube wants to sell its $10/month [YouTube Red] subscription service which offers many features that ProTube also offered for a lower one time price, so they started hunting down 3rd party YouTube apps on the App Store.
Gessner said he initially considered several options to end the dispute with YouTube, including removing all the contested features and making the app free, but ultimately he decided against this because "everyone who paid for ProTube's standout features would suddenly get an app update that removes all those features, resulting in a useless app".

The developer also tried to negotiate with YouTube to come to some sort of agreement, but found the process "very difficult" and claimed he was unable to get a direct response to his questions. After threats of legal action, "I knew that getting sued could cost me more than I ever made with ProTube," he said.

"While it is absolutely awful seeing ProTube getting pulled from the App Store, it was the best solution when it comes to the users that already purchased the app," admitted Gessner. "I was getting screwed either way but I at least didn't want to screw my users."

Many other third-party YouTube apps on the App Store have been targeted by YouTube with takedown requests, according to the developer, who signed off by thanking ProTube's "big and passionate fanbase" and warning people not to be taken in by the fake ProTube apps that have appeared on the App Store since it was first released.



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16 months ago
If the official YT app had a one off fee to enable background playback and reduce ads I'd pay it in a heartbeat. But no, they want me to pay MORE than a Netflix subscription for that tiny privilege. Google can f-off.
Rating: 30 Votes
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16 months ago
Nice one YouTube, instead of improving your own POS app so that there's no need for 3rd-party apps, you crush the best one out there.

Instead of threatening to sue, you should hire him, he seems to know what your users want. The same can't be said of you.
Rating: 25 Votes
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16 months ago
Such a shame. Greedy bastards at Google refuse to make better products, so they force those that do to shut down.

Any way to keep this on my devices? How can I ensure it won’t go away for me?
Rating: 20 Votes
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16 months ago
When Google and Apple cooperate together, the duopoly is capable of great evil. :p
Rating: 19 Votes
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16 months ago

When Google and Apple cooperate together, the duopoly is capable of great evil. :p


How is it evil? YouTube is Google's service. The developer was charging money to access a service he doesnt own or have any right to. It would be like your neighbor charging people to use the power from your house. He should be happy he gets to keep the money he already made.
Rating: 17 Votes
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16 months ago
Was a great app with a great developer. Put the YouTube app to shame.

Terrible that rather than compete they just shut down a superior product.
Rating: 10 Votes
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16 months ago

How is it evil? YouTube is Google's service. The developer was charging money to access a service he doesnt own or have any right to. It would be like your neighbor charging people to use the power from your house. He should be happy he gets to keep the money he already made.

Get your facts straight.

The dev charged money for an app he spent the time and energy to create and maintain which had benefits and features the YouTube app did not/would not.

Your analogy is off-base.
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If the official YT app had a one off fee to enable background playback and reduce ads I'd pay it in a heartbeat. But no, they want me to pay MORE than a Netflix subscription for that tiny privilege. Google can f-off.

Google is, above all, an ad agency, so users must pay dearly and repeatedly to opt out of their ads.
Rating: 9 Votes
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16 months ago
YouTube is within their right to strong-arm the developer in this way. They have a vested interest in killing any 3rd party application that allows users to avoid paying $10 a month for YouTube Red.

I'm a ProTube 2 user. Never saw an ad, could play videos while application is in the background and it had far less UI overload compared to YouTube. I can understand why they would want to kill it.

However, my use case was likely unique. I do subscribe to YouTube Red but ProTube has one advantage. I don't like watching YouTube Videos in the YT application. Sometimes I want to watch them in Safari when someone sends me a link. With YouTube installed, YT links would open the official application. Since Apple doesn't allow me to pick which application opens when I click a link, I eventually uninstalled YouTube from my iPad but their web UI for viewing subscriptions doesn't work well on iPad so I started using ProTube.

ProTube allows me to watch users I've subscribed to but it does not open by default when I click a YouTube link in my web browser or email.

I did enjoy the fact that when I got a text message, I could tab over to it without the video stopping. I don't use the feature like YouTube thinks I do (playing music in the background). I use it to multi-task w/o a video stopping.
Rating: 8 Votes
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16 months ago
Wow such a shame. I love this app, glad I bought it while it was available.
Rating: 7 Votes
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16 months ago

Get your facts straight.

The dev charged money for an app he spent the time and energy to create and maintain which had benefits and features the YouTube app did not/would not.

Your analogy is off-base.
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Google is, above all, an ad agency, so users must pay dearly and repeatedly to opt out of their ads.

To be fair, there were no ads in protube. I can see how this represents a conflict of interests for YouTube. In the years I have used protube, I never saw a single ad and I am sure that would have resulted in some loss of income for Google.
Rating: 7 Votes
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