For a lot of people concerned with privacy, they cannot give up mainstream privacy-disrespecting services. However whether or not their reasons are good or bad isn’t the topic here. If people have to use mainstream services, they can at least use alternative frontends to those services. In some cases they can be better than the official thing, automatically blocking ads, offering extra features etc. However, in other cases they can be worse; occasionally malfunctioning, not providing access to every necessary feature or even just being abandoned by the developers. The purpose of this page is to examine every mainstream service and existing alternative frontends to those services. If I missed any, please let me know and I’ll add them.
Invidious has become the go-to frontend for desktop YouTube usage by people that value privacy and favor open-source software. It uses a custom API, is lightweight and anyone can use the software to run their own instance. As it uses a custom API as opposed to YouTube’s own, there are some limitations; you do not have nearly as many format options as the official YouTube client offers, the default being MP4 720pHD and the other being WebM at “Medium” quality (which I believe is actually 360p resolution, correct me if I'm wrong).
Invidious is sort of flawed, as it runs on a web server, whoever is hosting a particular instance is responsible for keeping it running, meaning that instances are vulnerable to the issues that plague less professional operations. The instances (even the main one) can often be slow, have timeouts and sometimes the videos don't even load. Invidious does allow proxying to increase privacy, however if a user has a paid VPN service (or even a free one), that will likely be better than using the Invidious proxy.
There are many of these sites in existence and my advice to you is to avoid them. They are often riddled with ads and their purpose is only to let you repeat videos, a mere browser extension is more than capable of accomplishing this and alternatives such as Invidious have this functionality integrated. By using these sites you may potentially expose yourself to malware and tracking you likely wouldn’t even encounter on the official YouTube client.
NewPipe is similar to Invidious; it uses a custom API in place of YouTube's own to play videos. It is only available on Android and can be downloaded from F-Droid. NewPipe allows you to subscribe to channels via its own integrated subscriber function, allowing you to become notified of new videos from your favorite channels without needing a Google account. The app has a download function which is pretty useful, it allows you to choose video resolution, filenames, captions and even lets you download audio files alone. You can watch videos with a popup player, allowing you to watch while using other apps. Lastly it allows you to use
NewPipe is missing user-related features, you cannot log into your Google account for example as it is a form of tracking. Consequentially this also means you cannot write comments or subscribe to channels (however it is possible to import subscriptions from your existing account to the NewPipe app). Comments also cannot be viewed at this time, however the developers have said they aim to add this functionality in a future release.
This is the best YouTube app you can get for Android and arguably the best frontend overall, go download it now if you haven't already!