As capable as the Apple Watch is at keeping users connected and keeping tabs on their health, it hasn’t completely lived up to the promise of being a truly all-in-one device you can wear. With a new app called WatchTube, however, it might finally fulfil that promise with millions of hours of distracting YouTube videos accessible right from your wrist.
There are a few reasons streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, and even YouTube haven’t released apps for wearables like the Apple Watch. The screens are tiny, the speakers are tinny, and watching videos on your wrist is an easy way to kill your battery in a matter of hours. It’s not entirely impossible, though. Some users have had success accessing YouTube content when linked through the Messages app (we have not) but for the most part, streaming media through your wearable has been limited to just music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
Hugo Mason, the creator of a new free Apple Watch app called WatchTube, thankfully didn’t get the memo that smartwatches aren’t supposed to be used to consume video content. As the name implies, the app gives full access to YouTube through the Apple Watch, with sound either pumped through its tiny speaker or a connected pair of Bluetooth headphones.
According to Mason, the app initially launches with a list of videos currently trending on YouTube as a default feed. But over time, as users interact with videos, that feed will become more personalised through the app’s own algorithm that tracks your watching habits, with all of the information stored locally on the watch itself for privacy reasons. You can’t link the app to your personal YouTube account in any way — it’s a completely separate window into the streaming service — but you can search and subscribe to content to find exactly what you’re looking for.
The app also provides access to teeny tiny captions if you want to skip the sound, and videos can be shared back to a smartphone through QR codes it generates that can be accessed through a camera. Is WatchTube the ideal way to enjoy YouTube content? Absolutely not. But it’s a novel use of the Apple Watch, making it even easier to covertly go down a YouTube rabbit hole when you’re supposed to be doing anything else.