Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: IPOD TOUCH

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

My U2B is one of those apps that wants to replace the native YouTube app on your iPhone or iPod Touch. It offers a redesigned YouTube interface that replaces the default Apple design with a more visual, subscription-oriented one. The interface has its appeal, but some technical issues hurt the app’s usability.

I am always leery about apps that replicate native functions. In order for a replacement app to really score, it needs to offer a significantly improved experience over Apple’s default app, especially since those default apps can’t be removed. For example, I long ago tucked away Apple’s default Weather app into an ignored corner of my device in favor of The Weather Channel app, which does more and offers a much better user experience. So, does My U2B offer enough to dethrone the YouTube app?

It’s a mixed bag. In terms of functionality, the two apps do all the same things. Search videos? Yes. Comment on videos? Check. View favorites? Yup. My U2B does allow me to share directly to my social network, which is nice, but minor. Other than that, they’re virtually the same. So this contest all comes down to presentation.

On the face of it, My U2B has created a very appealing interface. Instead of the standard Apple design, My U2B looks more like the Home Screen itself. When you open the app, it displays your subscriptions instead of generic featured videos, with your subscribed channels lined up in a 4×5 grid. Number alerts let you know if there are new videos. If you want to rearrange them, you hold your finger and wait for the “wiggle.” Its familiarity means you’ll be clicking through to your favorite videos right away.

When you click on a video, the pre-play screen features a filmstrip of other videos in that category; a scrollable window for the video description; quick access to the like, dislike, comment, favorites, and search buttons; and a link to the owner’s channel. It’s a lot to fit on the screen, but the layout generally works. The video, when you play it, drops into the default iOS player.

Where I had issues with My U2B was in the technical area. The interface runs slooooowwwly, with a noticeable sluggishness and twitchy animations. Probably as a result of the same issues that cause this slowness, the app also crashed on me several times. It may be that the iPhone 4’s more powerful processor would mitigate this, but on my 3rd generation device, the problem was enough to discourage my continued use of the app.

Even without the technical issues, which may be device-specific and could easily be addressed in an update, My U2B is an app that will have somewhat limited appeal. The design is decent, and if you’re a heavy user of the YouTube app who would like a more robust interface centered around your subscriptions, then you may find value here. Casual YouTube users, however, will probably best be served by sticking with the native app.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews, Social Networking

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