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RIP Vanced — the best YouTube app just got shut down

youtube vanced logo on black background
(Image credit: Vanced)

Anyone that’s used YouTube lately will know that the ad situation has become an absolute nightmare. It’s no surprise that YouTube Vanced, which offers the same YouTube experience without advertising, has become quite popular. 

However, much to the disappointment of its users, Vanced is now shutting down — with the creators citing “legal reasons” for the move. Developers have remained very quiet on the exact reasoning, with a Reddit comment revealing that the developers had to shut everything down. The prevailing theory is Google finally got legal on the service, and sent a cease and desist.

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It’s disappointing news for anyone that used Vanced, myself included. I switched over to the app a few months ago, after the onslaught of ads on YouTube proper became too much for me to handle.

The switchover to Vanced was like a breath of fresh air. Especially since I was able to install it without having to root my phone.

YouTube was dropping the ball and actively making its own service worse. Vanced offered a way to deal with that problem.

I was finally able to enjoy YouTube for YouTube, without having to skip through ads or getting disrupted every few minutes by some random person plugging a very sketchy-looking financial scheme. You know the kind, the ones that feel they have to convince you that it’s not a scam or a get-rich-quick scheme.

In the months since, I’ve grown accustomed to being able to enjoy YouTube without interruptions every few minutes. This has been especially beneficial when I’m exercising, since I can set up music playlists and not have to worry about a bombardment of commercials for Audible, TikTok and Generic Super Mega Casino App disrupting my flow.

But things did get noticeably worse over the course of 2021. At the start of the year I recall being able to set up a session on my treadmill and get through a decent 30-minute run with minimal interruptions. There were still ads, and they could prove to be incredibly irritating but overall it wasn’t a particularly painful experience. Especially since I was able to skip a large number of them.

Then the latest adpocalypse began. Not only were adverts seemingly getting more frequent, the quality of them was going downhill as well. Before the ads seemed to be pretty focussed on things like Instagram and TikTok, fast food, Audible and all those other things you’d expect to see.

Before finally snapping and switching to Vanced, I was getting various adverts for sketchy financial services, a huge number of gambling apps and websites and an increasing number of unskippable ads. Worse still, those unskippable ads seemed to be getting longer. Frankly, it was making the YouTube experience absolutely miserable.

I’m not opposed to advertising as a concept, especially when it comes to creator-made content. While I’m not necessarily worried about pulling a few dollars out of the pocket of a big corporation like Google, those creators do deserve what little revenue YouTube has to offer.

For what it’s worth Vanced doesn’t pull out product placement or plug for creators’ other revenue streams in its default state — be it Patreon, merchandise, availability on rival streaming services, and so on. In that respect I do feel bad for blocking the ads, but in the same way increasingly intrusive adverts drove people to install ad-blockers on their browsers, YouTube’s own ad policies pushed me towards an ad-free alternative.

I certainly wasn’t going to let YouTube’s ads drive me towards Premium. For starters I can’t justify spending $12 a month on Premium, or $10 a month for YouTube Music, just to get an ad-free experience and background playback.

Honestly, I’d much rather pay $10 a month for a dedicated streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music.

Secondly, I am stubborn as heck. Subscribing to Premium to get away from Google’s own terrible ad-policies feels like giving up — and I sure don’t feel like letting Google win another victory over my wallet.

Sadly, those days are now numbered. Download links for Vanced will disappear within the next couple of days, according to developers, though existing users should still have access for the immediate future. The Vanced Twitter account claims the service wills till work for "two years or so".

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Why Google chose to go after Vanced now, especially after its been in operation for so many years, isn’t clear. But it’s obvious why the company would want to shut down a service that infringed on its IP, affected ad-revenue and offered features YouTube proper locks behind a paywall.

That doesn’t mean I’m any less disappointed to hear the news. YouTube was dropping the ball and actively making its own service worse as a result — for reasons we can only speculate about. Vanced offered a way to deal with that problem, and while morally gray at the very best, there was clearly demand for a much more user-friendly YouTube experience.

Has YouTube’s advertising improved over the past few months? I don’t know, and I don’t have to find out anytime soon. I seriously doubt it, though.

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.