Listening to your music with your phone screen off in the Youtube app used to be free. It was just a natural part of the app experience back in around 2013, but then once Google separated the listening experience for music into its own app, this was placed behind a paywall. Now, it’s being offered for free again for some reason.
Canada will be the first to experience this update starting November 3, 2021, with “additional information and expansion plans” to come, according to the Youtube Blog. It follows then that the U.S., U.K., and other regions will gain this capability shortly afterward.
You may be asking why this is becoming free and why now. While we don’t really have a clue at this stage in the process, I have a pretty good guess – Podcasts. That’s right, with all of the loose hints that Youtube may absorb Google Podcasts or at least attempt to make the podcasting experience on its own platform better with listening controls and a new executive recently being placed in charge of organizing and strategizing around the multitude of them there, free background listening seems like a dead giveaway.
What better way to listen to podcasts – a format that’s pretty much not at all visual – than with your screen off? To me, it doesn’t seem likely that the armies of users who have been pining for this feature to be free have been accepted by Google when the company is making plenty of cash off of them. Instead, this seems calculated, and though we will have to wait and see as always, I hope that this is the case.
What do you think about all of this? More importantly, would you like Google Podcasts to merge with Youtube or Youtube Music? It seems like the Music app would be the perfect place for them as they would get more exposure, and you can toggle between video and audio-only modes, making it super easy for the company to mass import them all and make them feel at home. Oh, and don’t forget that Podcasts used to be baked directly into Google Play Music, and we all know how much Google likes to come full circle on its decisions and design implementation after just a few years.