Following on from Ian’s recent post here about a new YouTube TV user interface at www.youtube.com/tv I wanted to set this up on my HTPC’s around the house and also configure our Android and iOS mobile devices for use with the Mobile YouTube website, where you can browse YouTube and then select videos via the mobile device and then send them for playback on the HTPC / TV.
This works pretty well and I am glad I set it up, my wife also agrees and out of all the many audio visual and home automation things I have built in our house, this is the one feature she has said she actually likes LOL. As she can now browse YouTube on her Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 tablet and send her Thai music videos either to the TV in the living room or to the TV in our bedroom, and have the sound play out of the speakers in the room. This is the downside for me though as I am now listening to more Thai music hehe.
First things you will notice is that www.youtube.com/tv does not work in Internet Explorer and you get a YouTube 404 not found page, you have to use Google Chrome on the HTPC. This meant I had to download and install Google Chrome on to each of my HTPC’s as I usually just use Internet Explorer on the HTPC’s.
Once I had Chrome installed the next thing was to add an icon in to Media Center to launch YouTube TV in the Chrome browser. I just wrote a blog post here about using a utility called Relaunch to do this. So following that guide you can create a new icon in Media Center for YouTube TV as shown in the below screen shot:
You can download the YouTube .PNG image I used for the icon here from my SkyDrive.
New YouTube TV tile in Media Center on the Extra’s menu
OK so now that you have a way to launch YouTube TV from Media Center we will take a quick look at the new YouTube TV user interface.
As you can see the user interface is pretty nice! And its certainly much better than previous 10 foot UI’s from YouTube like the XL and Leanback ones.
Now I am going to take a look at some of the setup and settings.
The first thing you need to do is sign in to your YouTube account
When you select Sign In you will see the screen below, open another browser tab and go to www.youtube.com/activate
You will then see this page, enter the code in and click Continue.
You will then see this screen, click Allow Access button.
You will then see Success! You can now close this browser tab and return to the YouTube TV page.
You should now be signed in to YouTube TV
The next thing to do is pair your mobile devices, in our case we have a Samsung Galaxy Tab and an iPod Touch.
Note: Sending YouTube videos from the Android and iOS YouTube native apps to your HTPC / TV doesn’t seem to be possible. Rather than using the YouTube app you have to use their mobile site instead.
You will then see this screen, which gives you another code and suggests going to youtube.com/pair on your mobile device. However I am going to do it slightly differently as I had some issues with the same device getting paired twice and found this to be a better way of pairing your mobile device, read on..
Now pick up your mobile device and go to the mobile YouTube website. This is the URL for the YouTube mobile website : http://m.youtube.com
The following screens are taken from the Android tablet:
Instead of going to youtube.com/pair as suggested above, I found it better to open m.youtube.com on the mobile device, navigate to a video and then click the small TV icon with a play symbol on it, the select + Add YouTube TV
Now you see this screen, enter the Pair code you were given on the PC and name the TV, i.e. where is this HTPC located in the house? In this example I am pairing the Android tablet to YouTube TV running on the master bedroom HTPC. So I called it “Master Bedroom TV”
You should then be connected to the TV, in this case the Master Bedroom TV. You can see I can also select to play videos to the Living Room TV as well.
So now when I pressed play on this video, it did not play locally on the Android tablet, instead it played on the Master Bedroom TV screen. You can see in the above screen shot that you have pause / play / skip controls and you can move the playback slider to jump forwards or backwards in the video.
Repeat this process for all your mobile devices you wish to pair.
If you then go back to the YouTube/TV user interface on the PC, in the settings, you can see the number of devices that have been paired. If you click in to this….
It lists the paired devices you can also disconnect all paired devices from this screen.
Overall this seems to work very well, you need to first ensure from Windows Media Center you click the YouTube TV icon to launch YouTube TV in Chrome, you can then pick up one of your mobile devices and navigate to the m.youtube.com mobile website, I created shortcut icons on the Android and iOS home pages for quick access.
You then simple browse YouTube on the mobile device and find a video you wish to play, you then click the small grey TV icon with the play symbol in it and you get a menu where you can choose the TV screen to play to and it then plays on that TV and you have some basic transport controls on the mobile device.
Some times the mobile device does disconnect, if you let the mobile device go to sleep and then turn it on again you may find its disconnected and you have lost your connect, I was using my Regular MCE remote control anyways with the HTPC so I could still pause and play the video in YouTube TV. I’m not sure how you get the mobile device to reconnect to the currently playing video on the TV once the connection has been lost?
Another problem I don’t like is the videos on the TV never play in proper full screen mode, I always have two grey bars either side as shown below. If I use a mouse I can bring up some other controls at the bottom and there is an icon that looks to be a full screen button but it only changes the grey bars to big black ones instead.
Also sometimes the mouse cursor stays slap bang in the middle of the TV screen and does not disappear.
So that’s it, give it a go I think you will like it, its certainly the best YouTube viewing experience we have had on the TV’s and its even better now because we don’t even have to navigate around a YouTube interface on the HTPC which usually sucks, we can do it in the palm of our hands!