YouTube on Switch Hands-on: Good, but Incomplete

A year after Hulu arrived on the Nintendo Switch, another multimedia streaming app has joined it. We've finally got our hands on YouTube running on the Nintendo Switch. And while YouTube on Nintendo's portable gaming device is pretty good — better than Hulu in one way — there's one kinda weird catch.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

First of all, this isn't some mediocre version of YouTube, like you get on Amazon devices that run a busted version of YouTube in a web browser. It looks and acts just like the YouTube you get on smart TVs and streaming devices such as the Apple TV and Roku

As I streamed episodes of the popular hot wings challenge talk show Hot Ones, I noticed crisp streaming quality, with streaming resolution options for up to 1080p. If only the Switch's 1280 x 720-pixel screen were wide enough to show video at that resolution.

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YouTube should be seriously commended, though, for beating Hulu when it comes to touch screen support. The Switch's screen lets you tap to click icons, so why doesn't Hulu let you use that for interactions? Yet, when I open the Hulu app on the Switch, which is a year and a day old, it still doesn't let me tap to click. That's not a issue with YouTube.

On the downside, though, YouTube needs to add two things. The more important feature is Save For Offline, because when I pay $9.99 per month for YouTube Premium, I expect to get local file saving on every mobile app YouTube makes.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The other odd move is that while you can tap on the YouTube TV interface, you can't swipe the rows of tiles to browse. Instead, you navigate those with a Joy-Con joystick. That's not a bad setup, but it's one of those little things that makes the app feel like it needed more time in the oven.

Oh, and if you were hoping for the YouTube TV experience on the Switch — complete with live TV — that's not here yet. This mean's Hulu's Live TV package is still the only way to watch live programming on Nintendo's handheld.

But for most people, though, YouTube on Switch is a more than capable port of the streaming video app, and one we're happy to see.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.