YouTube has just announced that it will be making some changes to how users can interact with video content in the next few weeks on Android, but only for users in India. As part of the improvement process, YouTube will afford Indian media lovers with the ability to download and save videos to view offline, meaning they can be viewed anytime without an active Wi-Fi or cellular data connection.
As you might expect, the announcement was greeted with rapturous delight from the crowd at the launch of the low-cost Android One handset in Gurgaon, India, but it does pose an interesting question: when will the ability to save videos come to the rest of the world, if ever?
The event itself was organized with the intention of introducing the low-cost Android One handset into the Indian economy. YouTube executive Ceasar Sengupta took the opportunity to make the announcement and to inform the crowd of the imminent arrival of the new offline features:
YouTube is popular here. You watch some videos again and again. How awesome would it be if you could keep watching them again and again without having to pay for data, and take the videos with you wherever you go? Within the coming few weeks, much of YouTube will be available offline in India. This is huge, and our users will really, really like this. You can download a video once, save it to your phone, and watch it again and again.
Sengupta is right, this is huge. Huge enough that the rest of the world would like this feature too. Initial reports are suggesting that the offline functionality will apply to almost any video that exists on the video streaming sites’ servers and can be accessed and downloaded via any compatible Android smartphone or tablet. A perfect feature improvement to go with those three $100 Android One handsets that have just been announced in the country.
The ability to download and save videos offline will inevitably raise some questions from advertisers and content creators. There is no official word yet on how ads will work on videos that have been downloaded, but there is an initial suggestion that the advertisement could be downloaded alongside the video and still displayed to the user when the video is watched on one of their devices offline. We’re sure we’ll hear more about this as the functionality is rolled out across the South Asian country.