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Apple TV, smart televisions hit by YouTube blackout

Changes to YouTube will leave many older devices unable to access the video service

YouTube apps on older Apple TVs, smart televisions and iPhones may no longer work today after Google switched off an API that served many of these older devices. Products sold as recently as three years ago may no longer be able to stream from the world’s biggest video service.

The retirement of Google’s Data API v2 will leave some YouTube apps unable to show anything more than a warning message. Second-generation Apple TVs, iPhones and iPads running on iOS 6 or earlier, and many smart televisions, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players sold before 2013 will all be affected by the switch off.

Google has published a support page showing how different devices will be affected. Second-generation Apple TV owners are warned that “unfortunately, there’s no current way to watch YouTube on these devices”. Those still running iOS devices on iOS 6 or earlier are told they will either have to upgrade their OS (if possible) or watch YouTube video by going to the YouTube mobile site in the Safari browser. 

Older smart TV or games console owners are advised that they too may be able to continue viewing YouTube through the device’s web browser, but only if that browser supports flash and/or HTML5. 

The switch off even affects Google’s own hardware. Those using Google TV boxes are advised to upgrade to the latest version of the YouTube app. However, those who are using version 2 of the Google TV software are warned that they will be unable to upgrade. 

The YouTube blackout is an example of how quickly devices such as smart televisions can veer towards obsolescence, with manufacturers often failing to deliver firmware updates after the first couple of years. Those who bought their TV for the interactive features may now be forced to buy a separate set-top box to continue enjoying features that were previously built into the set. 


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