YouTube briefly tested cross-device downloads
It looks like YouTube wants to make video downloads easier to manage for Premium users. A cross device offline settings entry has popped up and subsequently disappeared in the most recent Android app versions for some. While the feature apparently wasn’t fully functional yet, it looks like it might allow you to download videos on your phone and make them automatically appear on other devices someday.
The option showed up in the Background & downloads settings for some YouTube Premium subscribers in stable and beta, v15.49.34 and 15.50.32, but we actually already spotted it as part of an app teardown back in 2018. When you tapped on the option while it was available, you were presented with a popup asking you which device should be synced, along with a toggle that reads, “Allow downloading to this device.” However, when we tested this with two phones, downloads wouldn’t automatically appear on the secondary handset, neither automatically nor in the form of a download prompt. We also tried restarting both phones to try and trigger an automatic action that way, but that was to no avail.
Since our 2018 teardown and a peek at the current code reveal strings reading “Updated cross device offline state” and “Error updating cross device offline state,” we’re pretty confident that the feature should, in fact, sync downloads across multiple devices someday. But it’s also possible that Google scrapped that 2018 plan and just resurrected the name for some other functionality, like syncing your download quality and network preferences.
<string name=”menu_cross_device_offline“>Cross device offline settings</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_device_name_hint“>Enter a name for this device</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_error“>Error updating cross device offline state</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_no_device_name“>Please specify a device name</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_no_gcm_registration_id“>Please try again in some time</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_success“>Updated cross device offline state</string>
<string name=”pref_cross_device_offline_toggle_text“>Allow downloading to this device</string>
We’ve reached out to the company to find out what exactly it plans to bring to YouTube, but we haven’t received an answer. Instead, the UI surrounding cross-device offline settings quietly disappeared from the app for us in the meantime. It’s possible that some people still have access to it if it’s a broader a/b test, so be sure to update to the latest version of the YouTube app on the Play Store. We’ve also got both the beta and the stable version on APK Mirror.