YouTube Continues Its War on Its Users and the Planet

Published 2024-04-18 on Matthew's Blog

Even though the YouTube app on my Apple TV hasn’t been updated since December 7, 2023 (version 4.22.01), YouTube is still able to change how their app works. This is nothing new and apps have been able to change their behavior without publishing a new version to an app store.

I believe that most good developers want to write good software, that gives the user a choice, and works for the user. Google either isn’t hiring any of these people, or are able to make them forget their convictions for that good Google paycheck.1

The specific change I’m complaining about today is YouTube’s new screensaver that starts when you pause a YouTube video on your Apple TV. YouTube starts a screensaver that’s generally a screencap of the video you’re watching, with a helpful “Press any key to resume”: or, the obvious way to stop a screensaver. I don’t really care what the content of the screensaver is, its the behavior that upsets me.2

See, YouTube’s screensaver won’t let the system’s own screensaver start, thus preventing the system from ever timing out and going to sleep, turning off itself, my TV, and any other connected devices. Confirmed by YouTube support, there’s no way for the user, me, the “owner” of my devices, to turn YouTube’s screensaver off.

12:20:55 PM Mau T: I understand that when you pause a video on YouTube, you get YouTube's screensaver instead of your own device's screensaver. 12:21:19 PM Matty J: That's right. How do I turn off YouTube's screensaver? 12:22:36 PM Mau T: Thanks! Let me check this for you. 12:22:44 PM Mau T: By the way, may I know who I'm chatting with? 12:23:28 PM Matty J: Matthew. Surely you have my account information in front of you. 12:25:04 PM Mau T: It's nice to meet you, Matthew. 12:25:20 PM Mau T: We do, however, we just want to make sure that we get to address you properly. 12:25:47 PM Mau T: As I've checked, we currently don't have the option to turn this feature off but I can submit this feedback to our app engineers and product team. 12:26:03 PM Mau T: It will also be helpful if you should share an image of what you're seeing or a recording.

I don’t know why they wanted video evidence since they seemed to know exactly what antifeature I’m talking about. It seems trivial to add a user option for this, but there must be some money-making reason why YouTube doesn’t want this to be turned off. I will not give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an “oversight”. YouTube, Google, and Alphabet know what they’re doing.

  1. Only to be laid off at a later time, with usually little to no warning, and certainly very little recourse. 

  2. There’s a handful of Apple’s own screensavers that cause me problems, too, by freezing, or otherwise getting stuck. The only resolution I’ve found here is to force-restart the Apple TV. 

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                    Jorgensen - author avatar

Hi there!

I'm a systems administrator & engineer, front-end and back-end developer, and an IT guru in St. Paul, MN. It’s nice to meet you.