YouTube mobile apps to go offline in November (in a good way)

shot of Youtube on an iPhone

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Sometime around Thanksgiving, YouTube fans will be able to put aside download tools such as KeepVid and YouTube-dl if they want to watch videos away from the Internet. Late Tuesday, Google announced offline viewing is headed to the company’s YouTube mobile apps in November.

The new feature will let YouTubers download “videos to their device to watch for a short period when an Internet connection is unavailable,” the company said in a blog post.

[Related: How to download streaming media and watch it anywhere, anytime]

Google has flirted with video downloads for mobile apps before. In 2012, the company added a feature that let Android devices cache YouTube videos from their subscribed channels and watch it later lists.

The current feature makes it easier to watch videos later without interruption if you end up with a slow connection while on the go. Unlike true offline viewing, however, caching on Android requires an active Internet connection to actually watch the video.

YouTube’s upcoming offline viewing will be a boon for anyone that wants to watch their favorite video podcasts during a subway commute, or needs a morning chuckle with an endless parade of crazy cat clips.

But how useful the new feature will be is anyone’s guess.

Google’s YouTube team did not specify how long you could keep downloaded videos on your device or if there was a limit to the number of YouTube videos you could cache at once. There’s also no word on whether offline viewing will be a universal feature or something that individual YouTube channel creators will have to enable.

Everything should become clearer in November when Google says it will release more details closer to the feature launch.

Google’s offline roll out is part of the company’s larger plan to beef up its YouTube mobile apps. In August, Google introduced new YouTube apps for Android and iOS that let you continue to watch a video in a small window while searching for other videos in the app. The new YouTube app also added playlist integration, and the ability to preview upcoming videos sent to connected TVs and Chromecast.

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