The YouTube app for Apple TV just took another step in the wrong direction

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apple tv youtubeDave Smith/Business Insider

  • YouTube updated its Apple TV app on August 30.
  • The update fixed some issues, but created a new problem.
  • Your home screen is now limited to five categories, which you can't choose or change, effectively making discovery more difficult than it was before.

YouTube must have read my recent complaints about its Apple TV app because the newest update, which dropped last week, fixes a handful of issues I brought up.

Unfortunately, the new YouTube update introduces a new problem that wasn't there before.

Some of the problems that were fixed:

- Scrolling is now much better. The YouTube app now uses inertial scrolling, which is one of the best features of the Apple TV remote: It can act like your iPhone's touchscreen, so the faster you flick your finger, the faster you scroll.

- The user interface is slightly better. The toolbar on the left side, which has buttons for Search and Subscriptions, is no longer hidden by default.

But the YouTube app's biggest problem remains even after the update: You can't use voice search unless you navigate to the actual "Search" field in the app, and you can't use your voice to control playback.

The app is also worse than it was before in one crucial way: You're now limited to five categories at the top of your home screen, which includes the "Recommended" and "Latest" categories, and there's no way to customize them.

For example, the categories at the top of my YouTube app, aside from the two defaults, are "Entertainment," "Gaming," and "Music." But I didn't choose these categories, and there's no setting that allows me to change them. And I wish I could switch out "Music" for another category like "Food."

The real issue here is that since you're locked into these predetermined categories, it makes discovery on the app significantly worse than it was before.

Prior to the August 30 update, the YouTube app would present a large number categories at the top of the UI, which usually correlated with the types of videos you'd watch. And those categories would change: If you started watching more videos from "The Ellen Show," the "Entertainment" section would likely appear on your feed. But now, there's no way to add or change your default categories, and so finding new videos, or creators, within those categories is now significantly more difficult on the Apple TV.

YouTube is all about search and discovery, but right now the latter feature is not up to snuff on the Apple TV. Here's hoping that changes soon.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

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