When you live in Finland, you take connectivity for granted. My unlimited 4G LTE connection costs 20 Euros ($27) a month and consistently gives me 35 megabits per second down. My girlfriend’s father has a fiber connection to his house that gives him gigabit access for just 10 Euros more. However, I spent the first three months of this year backpacking through Asia, and when I was lucky enough to find an internet connection, I often had to deal with a one or two megabit line.
Now considering one of my favorite things to do on my smartphone is watch video, how did I manage to feed my addiction? Simple, using an application called TubeMate. You’re not going to find it in the Google Play Store, because it unabashedly breaks YouTube’s terms of service. What exactly does it do? It lets you download YouTube videos.
How exactly does it work? Open up Chrome on your Android phone and go to YouTube’s website. TubeMate displays the exact same page, except when you go to watch a video, it gives you the option to download said video. You get to pick what resolution you want, where you want the videos to go (internal storage versus memory card), and it couldn’t be simpler to use.
Why exactly would someone want to download YouTube videos? There are so many amazing content producers these days that it’s hard not to find something to keep you entertained. The Verge has three weekly shows: Top Shelf, which usually clocks in at 20 minutes, The Mobile Show, which is about an hour, and The Vergecast, which is about 90 minutes long.
Then there’s Pocket-now, who makes some of the best product reviews out there, with each video being around 10 minutes long. On the subject of product reviews, there’s also Marques Brownlee, an amazingly talented young man who makes epic videos from his dorm room in New Jersey. And let’s not forget educational YouTube-stars, like Veritasium and SmarterEveryDay.
My favorite videos to download, however, are easily music videos. They’re bite sized, take up little space on your memory card, and you might even find some DJs recording themselves making hour long mixes! If you’re into electronic dance music, give DJ Cotts and DJ Ravine a look.
So how exactly do you install TubeMate? Go to their official website and pick a mirror. I always go with Opera since I trust them as a company after visiting their offices in Oslo numerous times. When you try to install the app, chances are your phone will throw you an error saying you can’t install it since it wasn’t from the Play Store. This is easy to fix.
Here’s where you have to pay attention: Go to your security settings, enable “Unknown Sources”, go back to the APK you downloaded, install the app, and then before you even open it, go back to the security settings to disable “Unknown Sources”.
Will Google ever bring offline support to their official YouTube app? Never say never, but let’s just say I highly doubt they will because every time you watch an MP4 file off your phone, that’s one less ad Google can show you and one less play for whoever uploaded said content.
How often do I use TubeMate? Several times per day. That 4G LTE connection I mentioned at the top of this article is for a wireless hotspot that never leaves my apartment. My phone on the other hand, I pay 5 Euros ($6.70) a month for unlimited data, but there’s one huge catch: I’m limited to only 384 kbit/s. While I could easily pay more for more speed, I don’t because when I’m on the go I’m usually only doing three things: Twitter, Email, WhatsApp. And for those, you don’t need a fat pipe.
Bonus: Those of you with eagle eyes will have spotted that I subscribe to 16 YouTube channels. For a full list of those channels, just head over to my YouTube page. And no, I’m not pimping any of my content since I can barely take a decent photograph, much less make a video worth watching.