By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

YouTube and the iPhone

I thought Jesse Noyes might have fallen into Steve Jobs’ famed reality-distortion zone when he reported in today’s Herald that the Apple iPhone will be able to play YouTube videos. After all, the iPhone is already supposed to come equipped with a full-featured version of the Web browser Safari. How could this be news?

Turns out that Noyes is on to something. Here’s what Apple says:

iPhone has a special YouTube player that you can launch right from the home screen. So now you can access and browse YouTube videos wherever you go. And when you find a video you want to send your friends, iPhone can even create an email with the link in it for you.

But what does this mean? Is Apple saying that YouTube will work better with the “special YouTube player”? Or is it saying that YouTube won’t work at all without it? If the latter, how can Safari for the iPhone be billed as a fully functional browser? Again, here’s what Apple says:

With its advanced Safari browser, iPhone lets you see any web page the way it was designed to be seen, then easily zoom in by simply tapping on the multi-touch display with your finger.

I’m scratching my head.

Update: Geoff gets to the bottom of this. Safari for the iPhone won’t support Adobe Flash, at least not in its first incarnation. (So much for its being a full-featured Web browser.) YouTube and a slew of other sites — including, featured in iPhone ads — use Flash video. So there you go.

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  1. Anonymous

    That IPhone looks really coolA bit expensive for me but it’s definitely going to sell.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Whoops. I just accidentally deleted a really smart comment that got into issues such as whether Safari for the iPhone will support Flash video. Please post again! Sorry.

  3. Steve

    Well, it wasn’t my “smart comment” but I was going to note that the YouTube website requires Adobe (nee Macromedia) Flash.You need a browser to see a web page. But that’s not necessarily all you need. A lot of web content is not html. There’s video content, audio content, java applets, javascript, dynamic html, asp’s and jsp’s and more – that are mostly handled by plugins and add-ons to the basic browser. The browser and the platform has to support the add-ons if you want to see the respective content.How open will iPhone Safari be? I dunno. But just because you have Safari doesn’t mean you’ll be able to see everything that’s available on the web.

  4. Anonymous

    It wasn’t my comment, but the Safari web browser on the iPhone doesn’t support Adobe/Macromedia Flash’s player, which is what YouTube’s web site uses to display videos. – geoff

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Geoff: Interesting. All those iPhone ads show off I guess people who actually go there won’t be able to play Times videos.

  6. Another Face At Zanzibar

    Dan, Think of it like this: On my BlackBerry I can use Google Maps via the web. But they also have a neat applet I downloaded that operates kind of like a slimmed-down version of Google Earth. I think that is what Apple is doing with the YouTube player. But, heck, it’s all conjecture until we actually see it on 6/29.

  7. Man who thinks iPhones are all hype and little else

    While the lack of Flash support means that the iPhone has trouble dealing with YouTube…think for a moment about all those retarded “refinance NOW!!!” ads you see everywhere on the web these days. Guess what format they’re in? That’s right: Flash. So that means they won’t display on an iPhone…oh boo-hoo, what a shame!And many of the “enhanced multimedia” Flash-based things I see on newspapers these days are useless, Flash-for-Flash’s-sake bandwidth (and time) wasters. If you remove the Flash video apps, there’s surprisingly little Flash on the web is really terribly useful these days.Besides, Lifehacker tells us you can easily hack/skin a Windows Mobile phone to do most of what an iPhone does…and without half of the restrictions an iPhone has, and without the screaming lack of security an iPhone has.

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