Why I won't use YouTube Go

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 6, 2018
Google Android

After launching YouTube Go in India about a year ago, Google is in the process of rolling out YouTube Go to more than 130 countries. While the app may not yet be available in your country, the chance is good that it will become available eventually.

YouTube Go is a lightweight application especially when you compare it to the regular YouTube application for Android.

But there is more to YouTube Go than that. Designed for limited or slow data connections, YouTube Go allows users to watch or download videos, and share videos with friends that are nearby without using data.

That's an interesting feature, without doubt, as you could download a bunch of videos you are interested to your device to play them at a later point in time. Useful before you take a flight halfway across the world, or live in an area with bad Internet connectivity.

Why I won't use YouTube Go

YouTube Go sounds like a nice idea on paper: use it to download videos for later viewing, and share these videos with nearby friends who use the app as well without using data.

My main issue with the application is that it requires you to enter your phone number on the first start. This phone number is associated with your Google account, and used by the app to scan your mobile contacts regularly to find contacts that use YouTube Go as well.

Even if I don't plan on sharing videos with anyone, I'm forced to enter a valid phone number and Google will scan the list of contacts on the phone regularly on top of that.

I don't want Google to associate a phone number with a Google account just so that I can use an application, and I most definitely don't want the company to scan the contacts on my phone regularly.

Privacy is the main reason; functionality is another. YouTube Go comes without search option which means that you are limited to "top" videos that Google provides. At least, that was the case back last year, but it seems unlikely that this changed in the meantime.

Closing Words

A much better way, from a privacy perspective, would have been to let users use the application without a phone number, or let users skip the step so users can check out the app before they make a decision.

Now You: Do you use apps that require a phone number?

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  1. Johny Why said on May 19, 2022 at 6:11 am

    Wow, I just discovered “Soundy”!
    – tiny
    – runs on Google Go
    – Keeps playing sounds in background.
    – Works even if phone is locked.
    – No ads

    It’s a web browser.

  2. angryman said on March 3, 2018 at 6:18 am

    I hate that these businesses are allowed to do this stalking activities while spruiking privacy policies. There should always be an alternative. Otherwise the companies should be open to criminal liability when I am robbed by stealing my security off me. As they provided a weak point in my security, they should be held responsible. Google and others should be mass-sued by all of society at once. Also the personal privacy of the directors should be exploited by the whole world so they know what they are doing to everyone else.

  3. TelV said on February 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Looks like Facebook is jumping on the bandwagon now with its not-so-private VPN service Onavo which monitors user activity across various apps: https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/12/facebook-starts-pushing-its-data-tracking-onavo-vpn-within-its-main-mobile-app/

  4. o_O said on February 8, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Yet another service that wants my phone number for no reason apart from selling out my privacy to third parties

  5. john Doe said on February 7, 2018 at 8:27 am


    Thats just about facebook, When the truth about Google starts trickling out, Don’t be surprised.

    1. John Fenderson said on February 7, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      “When the truth about Google starts trickling out”

      You mean it hasn’t?

  6. Anil said on February 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Google is becoming a mad monster and wants to see everything a user doing.

    The day is not far away, when google will tell “you are in toolet and doing…you are love making with your partner…” The list goes on.

    I switched to F-droid as much as possible. Quite a few google apps replaced with F-droid equivalents. So far using Open camera, simple calendar, simple file manager, simple gallery, simple flash light, SkyTube and Yalp. Working great and phone is happy not to be charged frequently.

  7. john said on February 7, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Data-mining is part of the reason it takes these companies so long to roll out a product. Creating a product nowadays is the easy part. Finding creative ways to stick a bunch of useless surveillance code is the tricky part.

    You’re dealing with networks, anti-virus, permissions, collating data on the backend, additional server resources, OS updates to aid in the direction the surveillance apps will take, etc…

    Data science has grown very popular over the years. It was once a term rarely seen or taken too seriously.

    I was thinking about this a while back when Google was taking such a long time rolling out a competitor to whatsapp and similar. So late to the party. Part of the reason for the delay had to do with all the inventive ways this evolving category lends itself to data-mining. Google promised lots of security/encryption for Allo but turned it into another long-term surveillance tool.

    Features (and APIs) of the OS – much of it obfuscated behind actual useful advancements – eventually grow to tie into the surveillance aspects of their popular data-mining apps. For what? Ads? It’s crazy to think that it’s just about ads anymore.

  8. Ray said on February 6, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    I always try to find FOSS alternatives first.

    For YouTube, like many others have stated, NewPipe is pretty good. I also use SkyTube whenever I feel like reading a video’s comments.

    1. Stefan said on February 7, 2018 at 7:53 am

      D-Tube and Bitchute are other alt. to Youtube to.

  9. Darren said on February 6, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    This is Google still striving to integrate everyone bit-by-bit post Google+ failure. Can’t believe the contacts scan isn’t optional. Geeze Google.

  10. John Fenderson said on February 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Any app that demands access to my contacts list is an app that doesn’t get installed. I consider this basic social decency — I have no right to expose the people in my contacts to exposure to companies without their permission. Also, it keeps me away from hypocrisy, since it irritates me greatly when others do this to me.

  11. Jozsef said on February 6, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    It’s astonishing to me how blatantly aggressive and unapologetic big companies like Google have become in their eagerness to gather as much information about citizens as possible. It may well be immaterial by now since they already know so much about us but I still won’t give up my number and especially my friends and contacts for their data gathering efforts.

  12. PixelwizardSF said on February 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Nope. My Android device is a tablet, not a phone. On the web, Google’s been nagging to acquire it forever, and I don’t cough it up knowingly. However – as so many have mentioned – I’d be surprised if they didn’t already have it, collected from the content of an email or some other context.

  13. basicuser said on February 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I would not use an app that requires my phone number. However, I’d bet a dollar to a donut that my number has been compromised by other people allowing an app(s) to access their contacts lists.

    1. John Fenderson said on February 9, 2018 at 1:46 am

      Sadly, this is likely true. People are far to cavalier when it comes to handing out the PII of others.

  14. Ross Presser said on February 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    It is *not* true that you must provide a mobile number in order to create a new Google account. At least not in my region. Using a Firefox private browsing window, I just created a brand new one without providing either a mobile number or a current email … just a (fake) name, a new username to use, a (fake) birthday and “rather not say” gender.

    It is true that there is a field for entering a mobile number but it’s perfectly fine to leave it blank.

  15. Frustraded User said on February 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    So, the world knows that India offers so slow internet connections that Google had to launch this kind of a product. GBPS connectivity is available at many places in the world viz US, Hong Kong etc where India still struggles with kBps generally and a few MBps for a few lucky ones. Only Reliance Jio started offering better speed with 4G and since then, there has been a competition but, India lags and lags by a lot.

    – A frustrated user

  16. Anonymous said on February 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I seriously hate this trend among IM apps where you HAVE TO give your phone number. If even random apps like YouTube Go start to take up that trend, I’ll have to buy a secondary phone number just to satisfy these vultures.

  17. MarK Hazard said on February 6, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for the article Martin. I don’t register with Google because they ask for too much personal information. This means that I can’t comment on YouTube videos I like or dislike, but I am willing to pay that price. It is too bad that Google acquired YouTube.

    1. Kubrick said on February 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      @mark hazard.
      In a way it is good that google acquired you-tube or the site may well have gone down.They have the resources and manpower to keep you-tube going strong.

      1. John Fenderson said on February 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm


        I hear what you’re saying, but it looks like YouTube is dying in a sense anyway. Not as a product in an absolute sense, but Google is transforming YouTube into something very different. More like a sort of short-form Netflix than YouTube.

  18. Cigologic said on February 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    I suppose YouTube Go verifies phone numbers via a code sent by SMS ? If yes, how about using one of those free public phone numbers that can receive SMS online without user having to register for anything ?

    I think Google allows each unique phone number to be used for up to 2 account verifications per year. Since new public phone numbers are released periodically, one might just be lucky enough to be amongst the first 2 people to use the same number for account verification.

    I don’t use services that require submitting a phone number because I don’t have one. And even if I have one, I also don’t feel comfortable giving away the number. The ludicrous thing is that Google’s MVPs always advise phoneless/ privacy-conscious users to borrow someone else’s number to get the verification code.

    I recall that Youtube accounts required verification via a phone SMS in order to upload videos longer than 15 mins. The policy appears to be still enforced, but strangely enough, I noticed last year that my Youtube account now has a statement indicating that I’m able to upload videos of any length. Either that is an illusion, or maybe Google somehow tracked me down & discovered that I really do not have any personal phone number or other people’s phone numbers to give away to Google.

    1. John Fenderson said on February 9, 2018 at 1:43 am

      “how about using one of those free public phone numbers that can receive SMS online without user having to register for anything ?”

      That should work. So would using a $10 burner phone. But, what works the best of all is to just not use the app.

  19. TelV said on February 6, 2018 at 11:52 am

    The only app I use which requires a phone number is LINE which is a Japanese video chat app very popular in SE Asia. https://line.me/en-US/

    As for Google Go, the company never does anything unless there’s money in it and I would expect every video to be loaded with ads which is enough to put any sane person off.

  20. dtoxic said on February 6, 2018 at 11:30 am

    youtube go? Youtube NO more like it, here is very good alternative


    1. PixelwizardSF said on February 7, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks! I have gotten NewPipe, and now I disabled the bloated YouTube app. NewPipe looks good. (Can’t imagine an app I would like less than that YouTube.)

    2. MdN said on February 6, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      +1 for NewPipe. :-)
      -1 for Google pretending they don’t know our phone numbers. :-)

    3. Yuliya said on February 6, 2018 at 12:12 pm

      I use this! (:
      But also the regular YT application. When I want something real quick I use it. If I want to listen to a podcast or something, then I use NewPipe. It can play in background.

  21. reality_check said on February 6, 2018 at 11:03 am

    If you don’t like associating your phone number with your google account complain to Indians (not only Indians but there are too many of them there) who have made selling of google PVA accounts a job.

  22. HemoDroids said on February 6, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Oh wow, thanks for the heads up! I already saved the .apk on my phone a couple of days ago and was about to install it, expecting a stripped down superior youtube alternative. A snowballs chance in Hell that thing will ever get installed on my phone. Feels like I just avoided malware =)

  23. Malte said on February 6, 2018 at 9:51 am

    There are some good lightweight & open-source Youtube players in the F-Droid store. No need for Youtube Go.

  24. Ranko said on February 6, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Google already has your phone number and your contacts.

    1. poe said on February 7, 2018 at 4:23 am

      Contacts yes but not phone number. Not all SIM card store number inside. You can check the number in the settings, about phone,my number(forgot the exact place). It usually shows unknown, you can insert the number manually there.

    2. John Fenderson said on February 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm


      If that were always true, then the app wouldn’t be asking for these things.

      1. Ranko said on February 6, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        They are always asking for certain permission, like “By entering your phone number, you will give [APP NAME HERE] permission to do [NAME THINGS HERE]”, not like “Oh, we have your data already, you have 10 numbers associated with your Google account and we’ll pick one for you, and since you already gave us those number we can do whatever we want with them.”

        I’m not using Bing or Yahoo and I am 100% certain that they have my phone number.

    3. Anonymous said on February 6, 2018 at 2:04 pm


  25. mike said on February 6, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I can download youtube video’s without this kind of crappy software, they’re playing catch up.

  26. jupe said on February 6, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Don’t you associate a number with your Google account when you log in on Android anyway?

    1. Q said on February 6, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      A Google account does not require a phone number.

      Google requires phone numbers for select countries (such as United States of America, of course). The exception to this are older accounts that were created prior to the requirement and have never provided a phone number.

      For other countries, the phone number is optional.

      1. poe said on February 7, 2018 at 4:16 am


        It’s now required to enter phone number to create the account. It’s not for US or big countries only. I guess they do that to minimize spam accounts.

    2. John Fenderson said on February 6, 2018 at 5:37 pm


      No, I don’t. My android phone is not associated with a Google account.

    3. Ann said on February 6, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      No I don’t.
      I have a special google account just for my android devices, that I don’t use for anything else, not even mail.
      my google account I use, is not logged in on the android device.

      1. Anonymous said on February 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm

        Same. Bogus Google account as the mandatory Android shit

  27. Tancred said on February 6, 2018 at 9:30 am

    15 years ago people started to say: If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.

    It appears that this didn’t make a difference. People unwittingly pay with their data all the time.

    1. Anonymous said on February 6, 2018 at 2:03 pm


  28. Nef Steady said on February 6, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Well, at least nowadays, you have to enter a phone number already when you create a Google account. This was not the case some years ago and Google never forced you to enter a number for those old accounts. But I guess with all the permissions that Google apps have on the phone, they could find out that phone’s mobile number for sure.

    1. CIA Go said on February 7, 2018 at 1:15 am

      Yes, don’t worry, the CI… *cough* Google already has your phone number if you have an Android phone. Apple will happily hand it over as well. I realize this sounds a bit paranoid, but time will show…

      1. ilev said on February 7, 2018 at 8:58 am

        Apple doesn’t hand any privacy information to anyone, unless forced by court order.

        Google need your phone number, even if you don’t use an Android device, for recovering passwords.. for Google’s services.

      2. John Fenderson said on February 9, 2018 at 1:40 am

        “Google need your phone number”

        “Need” is too strong here. Google wants your phone number. It makes a handy identifier, particularly for their program that correlates your online activities with your non-internet brick-and-mortar shopping activities.

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