Google’s YouTube Remote app for Android might ease the pain of changing the channel on web video, so to speak.
The free app controls YouTube Leanback on the desktop or on Google TV. Once synced by user account on both devices, the app can play, pause, rewind, fast forward and adjust volume on YouTube clips. But the killer feature, I think, is the ability to find new videos or add them to a queue.
Back when I subscribed to cable, changing channels was the most inelegant part of the experience. You press the “guide” button, and your picture becomes a thumbnail, surrounded by a wall of programming information. Because this is so distracting, you’re under pressure — from your family or whoever else is watching — to find a new channel as quickly as possible so you can get back to the big screen.
With web video, the problem is even worse. Sites like Hulu and Netflix are meant to be single-serve. Even though both sites have queues, there’s no “guide” feature that allows you to watch one video while picking out another.
A mobile app with its own programming guide eliminates that problem. You can browse for new videos at your leisure, and build a queue without ever messing with the big picture.
Google can still do a lot more with the app, which is in beta right now. The ability to rate, share or comment on videos would be excellent, and I think Google will eventually add these features, as it eventually plans to merge YouTube Remote with its official YouTube app. In the meantime, let’s see Boxee do something similar with its Android and iPhone apps.
(Cable subscribers, there’s hope for you too. In May, Comcast showed off an iPad remote with full guide listings and social features, but no word on when it’ll be released.)