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24 Jun 2017

Samsung TVs set to lose the YouTube app

The change affects Samsung's 2011 and 2012 model TVs

Google is updating the software that allows remote access to YouTube and, as a result, the app will no longer work on older Samsung sets.

Some devices run a Flash based version of YouTube while others use HTML5. Google is phasing out the Flash version, which means some devices are losing the app.

Samsung TV owners have reported seeing a message when they try and access the app that informs them YouTube will no longer be available from 30 June 2017.

We've reached out to Samsung to see if it plans on updating older TVs to make them compatible with newer versions of YouTube and we will update this story when we get a response.

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Is Google or Samsung at fault?

Apps get upgraded oftento fix bugs and add new features. New, more powerful hardware means developers can add more to their apps and since many of us get a new phone every two years we don't get left behind. But TV's aren't something we upgrade often, so it's more likely that the software will outpace the hardware.

This is why several older model Sony TVs lost access to YouTube in 2016. According to Sony, the app simply got too advanced for the older TV hardware. TVs can get software updates, but there's not much can be done about older hardware not being able to handle newer version of apps.

Google is well within its rights to upgrade its software and the addition of new features will benefit many whereas the people left YouTube-less as a result of the change will be relatively small.

A worrying precedent

As more devices connect to the internet and gain access to apps and extra features beyond their basic function there is more room for them to become obsolete. Smart apps on a Samsung TV aren't an added bonus, those features are factored in the price, which on a high-end Samsung set can be well over £1,000.

It wouldn't be acceptable for Samsung to suddenly declare it is no longer showing BBC One or ITV on its TVs, and perhaps we should be looking at apps in the same way. Samsung, so far, has offered no solution for its customers who want to watch YouTube other than a link to a website with a list of devices that are still compatible.

How can I get YouTube on my TV?

In light of smart TVs losing access to apps, buying an expensive TV full to the brim with software may not be the best way to go.

Whether your TV is smart or not, you can still access YouTube through an HDMI connection with an internet TV streamer, such as a Kindle Fire, Chromecast or Apple TV. They can access a full range of apps including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video and, of course, YouTube. These are significantly cheaper than a new TV (a Chromecast is only £30) even if you need to upgrade them every five years.

To see the streamers we recommend, head to our Best Buy internet TV streamers page.