Most Android apps worth using are in the Google Play Store, but there are a few popular pieces of software you’ll have to venture out into the wider internet to obtain. For example, Fortnite is still only available from Epic Games, and some apps can only exist in the gray areas of the web. That was the case for the Android YouTube Vanced, or just Vanced for short. This app gave people the premium YouTube mobile experience without a subscription, but the free ride is over. The team has announced development of the app will end immediately, following an undisclosed legal issue.
Vanced became a must-have app for many people as Google implemented more and more features behind the YouTube Premium paywall. Users had been begging for features like background playback for years, and there was vocal opposition when the company added that as a subscription-only feature. YouTube Premium also removes the site’s increasingly annoying ads, and yes, Vanced does that as well. You can probably see where this is going.
While the Vanced team has not offered specifics, the legal threat can only have come from Google. It seemed content to leave Vanced alone until now, and it’s not clear what tipped the scales. It might have something to do with NFTs, though — doesn’t everything lately? The Vanced team announced last month that it was launching NFTs. The community complained, and the developers decided to abort the crypto scheme. Vanced was completely free of any profit motivation before, and trying to monetize with crypto could have pushed Google’s legal team to act. Some have also speculated that Vanced contains closed source YouTube code that Google could easily sue over.
Vanced has been discontinued. In the coming days, the download links on the website will be taken down. We know this is not something you wanted to hear but it’s something we need to do. Thank you all for supporting us over the years.
— Vanced Official (@YTVanced) March 13, 2022
If it was Google, you can understand its angle in this mess. It offers YouTube Premium for $10 per month, and Vanced allowed people to bypass the restrictions and get the paid stuff for free. It’s Google’s website, so it can decide how people access it. Google would not be the first company to squash a third-party app — Twitter has been doing that for years with its draconian API limits.
So, Vanced is no longer in development, and the official website is coming down. The APKs are still floating around the web. The team says the latest version should continue to work for a few years, but changes to YouTube in the meantime could break things that will never get fixed. As you’d expect, people are scrambling to find an alternative. The Vanced team even has a suggestion: YouTube Premium. Ouch.