Google shuts down YouTube Vanced, a popular Android app that blocks ads

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YouTube Vanced, a popular mod of the official YouTube app for Android, is dead. The project announced its termination this weekend. Project managers are oddly coy about the reason for the app’s shutdown, but The Verge has confirmed that a cease-and-desist letter from Google was the reason.

YouTube Vanced, which was created in 2017, is a mod of Google’s YouTube Android app. The developers decompiled Google’s official YouTube app, added additional features, and distributed the resulting code. The main appeal of Vanced was the ad blocking feature (the YouTube name is “AdVanced”, but without the “ad” – get it?) and background playback. In addition to the copyright infringement of redistribution of Google’s proprietary code and YouTube trademark infringement, you may consider Vanced a form of piracy since it was essentially a cracked version of YouTube. YouTube app that enabled most YouTube Premium features at $12 a month for free.

However, Vanced didn’t just block ads; it also added a bunch of community-requested features like a darker dark theme, SponsorBlock integration, and video quality preferences. Additionally, Vanced re-enabled YouTube’s removed dislike button and got rid of the YouTube Shorts UI. Team Vanced also released “YouTube Music Vanced”, which brought similar changes to the YouTube Music app. Vanced was of course not allowed on the Play Store, so an open source “Vanced Manager” app could check for updates, install both Vanced apps, and install a modded version of MicroG so you could log in with your account Google.

During its five-year existence, Vanced was so popular that it accidentally showed up in an official Samsung video. It’s unclear why Google took so long to kill the app, and there are still many popular alternative YouTube clients, like the FOSS NewPipe app, that Google doesn’t search for. Last month, the Vanced team unleashed a provocative move involving the minting of a non-fungible token of the Vanced logo, and there’s some solid speculation that this action is what has drawn Google’s ire. Google generally tends to leave the Android modding community alone, but taking advantage of your legally dodgy mod is sure to bring out the lawyers.

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