For the past three years, iOS users have brought significant traffic to ProTube, a third-party offering that lets its users play YouTube videos while adding in some features the platform’s official app lacks. Now, however, ProTube’s run is at an end. Apple has pulled it from the App Store in response to apparent pressure from YouTube itself.
On his website, ProTube developer Jonas Gessner said his product, which included perks like background listening that are not currently available in the free version of the official YouTube app, drew the video site’s attention. “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,” Gessner wrote. “Without those features ProTube would not be any better than YouTube’s own app, and that is exactly what they want to achieve.”
Some of the features Gessner mentioned are part of the package YouTube has included in YouTube Red, its $9.99-per-month subscription service. In particular, the ability to listen to videos in the background is one of the key perks of YouTube’s paid tier.
Gessner noted that his app, before being taken down, premiered at #12 in the US App Store after its 2014 release. It reportedly reached the top spot on the paid app charts in 11 different countries.
Apple’s decision to remove ProTube coincided with the shutdown of another quasi-legal YouTube-adjacent app, YouTube-MP3, which was handed over to the recording industry as the result of a legal settlement. These two items appear to be unrelated.