YouTube looks set to introduce an ad-free subscription service called "Music Pass," according to strings of code hidden in its new Android app, YouTube 5.3.
The code, which was excavated by the blog Android Police, apparently reveals these forthcoming options:
- Background music to keep playing while you use other apps.
- Uninterrupted playback -- so no ads.
- Offline play so you can watch videos and listen to music away from Wi-Fi without devouring your data allowance.
Further code hints that you'll be able to download a whole playlist to watch offline, and choose which definition the video is saved as, while uploaders will be able to specify their videos can't be watched offline.
There's no indication as to whether all YouTube videos will be available, or just music.
Google already has a monthly music-subscription service, clunkily called Google Play Music All Access. It's possible that will be folded into the YouTube offering at some point -- YouTube is certainly a much better-known brand.
As Android Police points out, Google will have had to negotiate the rights to sell music videos separately from the music itself, thanks to record companies' labyrinthine legal structures. Even so, what took them so long?
YouTube has been widely criticized by its users for recently implementing a new comment system based on the Google+ social network. One online petition calling for comments to revert to the old system has attracted over 200,000 signatures. The company today said it had taken steps to ban bad links and ASCII art.