YouTube Vanced App Forced to Shut Down ‘For Legal Reasons’

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YouTube Vanced is an extremely popular Android app that improves the standard YouTube experience with new features including ad-blocking and background play. Unfortunately, however, the software has come to the end of the road. The developer team says that Vanced is being discontinued "due to legal reasons" and suggests they were forced to comply.

youtube-vancedThere are millions of websites available today, most of which remain completely unknown to the majority of internet users. If you had to pick one known to everyone, though, YouTube would be a pretty safe bet.

Most people agree that YouTube is a fantastic platform but over the years the ad-supported free tier has become very frustrating. It has ads – lots of ads – many of which inexplicably appear at the most inconvenient and irritating times. Most of these annoyances can be cured by paying for a YouTube Premium subscription but for Android users in the know, there’s an even easier option.

YouTube Vanced

YouTube Vanced (or just Vanced, for those who dislike trademark issues) is the work of Team Vanced at XDA Developers.

It is a complete replacement for the official YouTube app and comes with some pretty nifty features, not least the complete blocking of all YouTube ads. It also allows background play, something that YouTube stubbornly refuses to allow on its free tier, along with support for Sponsorblock, dark themes and picture-in-picture playback.

As a result, Vanced – which is available for non-rooted and rooted devices – has a massive and enthusiastic following. Team Vanced insists that its software isn’t a replacement for YouTube Premium but for many users, the experience is close enough.

Or at least it was close enough, while it lasted.

YouTube Vanced Will Be Discontinued

Earlier today, the developers of Vanced announced that the ride will be coming to an end following what appears to be an outside intervention.

“Vance has been discontinued,” they announced on platforms including Discord and Reddit.

“In the coming days, the download links will be taken down. The Discord server, telegram chat and subreddit will stay for the time being. We know this is not something you wanted to hear, but it’s something we need to do. We want to thank you all for the support over the years.”

Naturally, this statement provoked lots of questions, mainly centering on the reasons for the sudden change of direction. Speculation that the team had received some sort of legal threat weren’t answered directly but a member of the team strongly hinted that a cease-and-desist may have been received.

“You don’t have to know the exact reason this had to happen, you can probably figure it out yourself, considering we had to do it,” the comment reads.

The Team Did Receive Some Kind of Legal Threat

In a follow-up on the Vanced Discord channel, the Vanced Team offered a little more information, confirming that “for everyone asking why, it was due to legal reasons out of our control.”

Precisely what those legal reasons are isn’t being made public and for reasons best known to them, Team Vanced seem keen to keep the details to themselves. Unsurprisingly there is a lot of speculation that Google/YouTube is responsible and anecdotal evidence seems to back that up, with someone close to the project referencing Google LLC in connection with the action.

While that remains unconfirmed for now, there are many reasons why Google might want to step in. The popularity of Vanced is one, particularly given that every user of the software is essentially generating no ad revenue for the company. That’s a problem that would only increase alongside Vanced’s popularity so after waiting years to do anything, now is probably the next best time.

Another potential angle could be the nature of the Vanced software. While it is a replacement for the official app, Vanced is advertised as a modded version of the official YouTube app. This suggests that it contains YouTube code which is closed source and protected by copyright. This raises obvious issues, particularly given that removing ads (and therefore depriving revenue from YouTube) is its most popular feature.

Vanced Will Still Work, At Least For Now

For those who already have Vanced installed, it appears the software will continue to work, at least for now. For those that don’t, downloads are still available via the official site too.

At some point, possibly when YouTube changes things at its end, Vanced will cease to function and with no more development, that will be the end. Precisely when that time will come is unknown but there are suggestions of months up to a couple of years.

Finally, while there’s no solid evidence that Google is behind this, it’s perhaps telling that despite the availability of Vanced-like competitors (Newpipe, for example), Team Vanced don’t appear overly keen to push people in that direction. Instead, they have a very specific service in mind.

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