FreeTube is an open source desktop YouTube HTML5 player built with privacy in mind. You can watch your favorite YouTube videos ad-free as well as prevent Google from tracking what you watch. That is the developer promise, we will see if he holds what he promises and please keep in mind that the application is currently in a beta status.
The app is free and open source hosted on GitHub, it represents a alternative to well known YouTube Downloader and integrates an GUI to view videos and subscribe to YouTube channels. The program is available for Linux, MacOS and Windows and can tools modern, the default white theme can be switched to a black one.
Basically it’s an application which plays the video in HTML5 and stores the data locally on your disk.
- Watch videos ads-free
- Prevent Google from tracking what you watch
- Subscribe to channels without an account
- Store subscriptions, history, and saved videos locally
- Import / Backup subscriptions
- Mini Player
- Light / Dark Theme
From the original features overview it looks very promising especially the ‘prevent Google from tracking’ aspect but we will check if that’s true or not.
Data Privacy in mind
The developer claims that the player is privacy focus and this is only half-right, it does stores your watched/downloaded videos on your local driver but that doesn’t prevent Google from tracking you. Even if you’re not logged in Google collects bunch of meta-data like what you liked, watched, downloaded, your IP address, timestamps and more. The promise that “preventing YouTube from tracking that video” is definitely wrong and only could be done when you fully block Google from connecting with their ads or tracking service to connect to you, basically that only can partially happen when there would be an ad-blocker integrated, but that’s not the case. I do believe that the developer is not an expert when it comes to ‘data privacy’ which would explain such half-right promise.
The program code of the application itself is clean and there is in this state less to complain about it’s a typically ‘one-man’ project which here and then gets updates.
The application is still in beta and might get updates very soon to fix some problems but I like to see it positive it’s a nice alternative to watching your favorite videos or channels within an APP which is especially designed for this one purpose.
If you’re regular YouTube Watcher you might give this program a try if you only here and then watch some videos you won’t need the app, I have my doubts about the privacy argument because you Browser is more secure, especially if you tweaked your configuration and use an ads-blocker than using this application but it’s difficult to check because no matter if you use the app or your Browser for YouTube, Google collects some statistics data so or so you can’t fully block it not even with an Ads-blocker and this is on both ends more a question how good or bad the filter or fingerprint mechanism are implemented, from what I quickly could checked, FreeTube doesn’t have any fingerprint based mechanism like eg. Firefox.
FreeTube does it’s job, the privacy argument is not 100% correct and this is the only thing I can explicit mention here as a negative thing, the rest works very well, I liked the dark design and my eyes saying thank you. I’m also a fan of the minimalistic interface because even beginners can easily understand it and use the program without the necessary to read any manuals or documentation.
Do I recommend this program? Yes, but with doubts when it comes to the data security promise.