Why Does YouTube Search Suck For Mobile Devices? [Updated]

    June 14, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

People have been complaining about the YouTube mobile experience for years. It’s just not the same as it is from the web. There are certainly plenty of similar complaints for numerous other popular sites and apps, but YouTube’s mobile apps have developed a reputation for just not being as great as YouTube itself.

The search feature from YouTube’s mobile apps, specifically, will often not deliver the same results as the YouTube desktop search feature.

Google and the YouTube know the mobile experience doesn’t match the desktop experience, and a YouTube product manager has weighed in on the topic in a discussion on Quora.

One user asked, “Why is Youtube’s search from mobile devices so inferior to its web-based search?”

YouTube’s Matthew Darby responded, “Mostly, because not all content is available on all devices. Content owners are given the option to exclude content from some platforms, particularly when monetization is not available. This often means the video you’re looking for isn’t available on that device, and so it’s removed from the search results you see. The most obvious example is iOS, which doesn’t have a lot of content available for this reason, including music videos from the major record labels.”

Update: A source close to the situation tells WebProNews that this response is not totally accurate. For example, the source says, there is major label music video content that is accessible via mobile devices.

Sure, iOS is indeed an example, but plenty of Android users have complained as well, so let’s not turn this into a Google vs. Apple thing. Googling “why does youtube mobile search suck,” the first result is “Does anyone else think the Android YouTube app sucks?” from androidforums.com.

“For some reason when I search stuff on YouTube.com I get much more results than I do on the mobile app,” the user who started that thread complained.

  • al

    since google took over youtube stinks

  • Nicole

    No that’s a lie because google foisted YouTube

  • juan

    I really don’t understand why is youtube app for iPhone so weak. It is prehistoric, it hasn’t change ever since it was build, but why??? YOUTUBE RECEIVES A LOT OF MONEY!!! THEY SHOULD CAME UP WITH SOME NEW APP, DON’T YOU THINK???
    Meanwhile, you can download PROTUBE, from cydia, it is not awesome, but is much better than youtube’s official app.

  • Me

    The iOS thing is a cop out. I will search for something inside the app and the results are nothing like the desktop results, but if I go on safari on my iPhone and search and the results are the same as my pc, and the the videos play just fine. Youtubes app just sucks

  • Poster

    it sucks on apple tv too. it’s like 10% of youtube, including foremost all the shaky cam and badly done videos and none of the copyrighted prime content

  • 2

    It’s because Google is shit

  • Philtration

    Funny how I go to look up a song to post to Facebook I getting hundreds of cover versions or a couple of the originals members of a band playing a sad version in some bar.
    How can these be more popular than the orginals songs which can be found on the PC search?

  • Keep Quiet

    Google really is awful. If I could be locked in a room with the CEO of Google for 5 minutes, it would be ugly.

  • ungruntled

    It isn’t just because content is excluded. The autocomplete on the YouTube android app might as well be called auto-fuckup. I’m currently watching the Stanford CS224D lecture series on my laptop, and want to start watching them on my mobile device. I cannot type CS224D without it being changed to C 22nd, which then returns crap which has nothing to do with natural language processing or neural nets.

    I’m sure there’s a way to tell the brain-dead app that I want to search on what I actually typed, but at this point I no longer care. I’m uninstalling the YouTube app, and going back to using the browser on my mobile to get content.