Google's YouTube app for iPhone has introduced a closed caption search filter and voice search function which increase the accessibility of video content on the mobile device.
Note: The closed captions function was temporarily unavailable on the app in the 48 hours after its release. We informed Google of the problem and they were quick to repair the glitch.
Earlier this week, Google released its own version of the YouTube app for the iPhone. The release comes after Apple did not renew the contract that made YouTube a core iPhone app for the last five years.
The new YouTube app allows users to filter their search to find closed-captioned content and display captions during playback. It has also introduced a 'voice search' feature that allows users to use speech instead of typing to find content. These are features that the Apple version of the app currently lack.
Because iOS does not support Flash, YouTube videos can only be viewed on an iOS device using an app and cannot be viewed using Safari. The inclusion of closed captions in the new YouTube app allows users, especially people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, equal access to YouTube content without device restrictions.
YouTube is the only mainstream online video-sharing website that supports closed captions. Providing captions on video content is a requirement for complying with WCAG 2.0 Level A. State, Territory and Federal government websites must meet Level A compliance by December 2012 in accordance with the Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy (NTS).
The Google YouTube app has also increased the number of videos available to watch on the iPhone. The Apple version was restricted by a policy that bans advertisement on core apps — a policy that also restricted the availability of some videos. The new app features advertisements, which will increase commercial opportunities for companies who previously did not allow their videos to be played without ads.
Other additions to the Google version of the YouTube iPhone app include the ability to share videos across social networks Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Apple's YouTube app lagged in this regard as it also did not provide the opportunity for users to share content through social media channels.
Google have made a steady move towards increasing the accessibility features of their services. Last month, Google introduced a feature that allowed users to edit auto-generated captions on the YouTube website. This is a positive step towards increasing the accuracy of auto-generated captions on the video sharing website. In July, Google introduced Hangout Captions — a live transcription service for their social network Google+.
The Google YouTube iPhone app is available for download from the iTunes store.