Yet another popular modified Android app has been forced to shut down. The popular ad-free YouTube app YouTube Vanced announced its discontinuation on March 13th, 2022 due to receiving a cease and desist letter from Google‘s lawyers.
Losing access to Vanced is disappointing news for the millions of Android users who had come to rely on it for an ad-free YouTube experience. But you still have options! In this guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about YouTube Vanced shutting down, and the best alternative apps to move to for blocking YouTube ads.
A Brief History of YouTube Vanced
Before jumping into Vanced alternatives, let‘s briefly recap what YouTube Vanced was and why it was so popular.
Vanced was a modified version of the official YouTube app for Android. It provided all of the core YouTube features people expect, such as:
- Browsing videos
- Managing subscriptions
- Liking, commenting and sharing
- Searching for content
What made Vanced special was it stripped out all ads from YouTube videos. This gave users an ad-free experience without paying the $11.99 monthly fee for YouTube Premium.
In addition to removing ads, Vanced added other handy features not found in the regular YouTube app, like:
- Background play – Allowed videos to continue with screen off
- Dark mode – An optional darker theme that‘s easier on the eyes
- Video downloads – Download clips to watch offline later
Modded apps like YouTube Vanced occupy a legal grey area. While they don‘t directly host pirated content, modifying official apps clearly violates copyright. However, these apps have still flourished for years since they improve upon popular apps for free.
Vanced in particular saw rapid growth in popularity since its launch in 2017. By 2022 it had grown a massive userbase in the millions. For many, it became an essential app to bypass the increasingly annoying YouTube ads. Some estimates pegged Vanced as being installed on 10-15% of Android devices globally.
So in summary, Vanced provided an excellent ad-free YouTube experience and found huge success. But this growth to millions of users is likely what put it on Google‘s radar for a takedown.
Why YouTube Vanced Shut Down
YouTube Vanced received direct legal threats from Google‘s lawyers that caused its shutdown. Specifically, the Vanced developers got sent a cease and desist letter demanding they discontinue distributing modified YouTube APKs.
The team announced the imminent shutdown of Vanced on March 13th, 2022 through their Twitter page:
As the tweet explains, downloading Vanced was already discontinued. Within days, all download links were removed from the vancedapp.com website as well:
So why did Google decide to take action against Vanced after allowing it exist for years?
A few key reasons likely provoked the crackdown:
- Direct APK downloads – Vanced directly distributed modified YouTube APKs rather than just enabling mods
- Rapid user growth – Its millions of users started cutting into YouTube ad revenue
- Premium competition – It provided Premium features users otherwise had to pay for
Growth often leads to the downfall of modded apps. As they gain popularity, rights holders notice substantial IP infringement they can no longer ignore. Vanced‘s wild success likely put it high on Google‘s radar.
The good news is that existing Vanced installations will continue working properly for an estimated "2 years or so" according to its developers. But eventually users will be forced to switch to a new solution.
Next, let‘s explore the best alternatives to YouTube Vanced and how to install them.
YouTube Vanced Alternatives: Top 3 Ad-Free Apps
Thankfully, YouTube Vanced isn‘t the only option for blocking ads on YouTube. Several other apps provide similar functionality, and none have been subjected to legal threats yet.
Based on features and functionality, here are my top 3 recommended alternatives:
My number one Vanced replacement recommendation is SmartTubeNext. Of all the options, it offers the closest experience to original Vanced.
SmartTubeNext is an ad-free YouTube player custom-built for Android. It strips all ads from videos just like Vanced. Additional features include:
- Background playback
- Downloading videos
- 4K/UHD video support
- Dark mode
- Custom configurations
I appreciate SmartTubeNext‘s highly customizable settings too. You can tweak auto-skip intros, gesture controls, video recommendations, and much more.
While free to use, a paid Premium version unlocks additional capabilities like blocking video cards and removing channel watermarks.
SmartTubeNext receives frequent updates from the developer, so its functionality continually improves. For Android users who want maximum control over a customized, ad-free YouTube app, SmartTubeNext is hard to beat.
- Official SmartTubeNext site – Get the latest APK
- How to install on Firestick guide – Detailed installation instructions
If open-source software is important to you, NewPipe is an excellent alternative. This app is entirely open source, letting users inspect its code themselves.
Some standout features of NewPipe include:
- Ad-free video playback
- Popup and background play
- Downloading videos and audio
- Finding content with minimal data usage
- Queuing videos into playlists
- Managing subscriptions
- Searching and filtering tools
Because it‘s FOSS (free and open source software), NewPipe is frequently updated by its developer community. It receives new features and improvements on a rolling basis.
The biggest downside to NewPipe is its interface is a bit dated compared to Vanced. But it more than makes up for it with powerful behind-the-scenes capabilities. For privacy-focused users who want transparency into app code, NewPipe is the way to go.
For people seeking a cross-platform option beyond just Android, SkyTube is worth considering. This newer YouTube client aims to work across multiple platforms.
Currently, SkyTube offers an Android app with these features:
- Ad-free video watching
- Background/popup playback
- Volume boost
- Dark mode
- Download management
- Subscription tools
Additionally, SkyTube plans extensions for iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux, and more down the road. This could make it a nice single option for multi-device households in the future.
SkyTube is still relatively new but under active development. For Android users wanting an alternative poised to sync across devices, it‘s a solid choice.
Comparing Core Features of the Top Alternatives
To help summarize the differences, here‘s a quick comparison chart looking at the core features of these top 3 recommended YouTube Vanced alternatives:
As you can see, the core capabilities around ad blocking, background play, downloads, etc. are covered by all three apps. Each one then adds its own selection of bonus features to differentiate itself.
When choosing the right YouTube Vanced alternative for you, consider which of these additional factors matter most:
- Maximum customization options
- Open source code and transparency
- Support across multiple platforms
- Other unique features like volume boost
The ability to remove ads remains consistent across the board. Focus on the secondary benefits most important to your needs.
Next, let‘s walk through how to get these Vanced alternatives up and running on your devices.
How to Install YouTube Vanced Alternatives
The process of installing YouTube Vanced alternatives like SmartTubeNext involves just a few simple steps:
1. Delete Any Old Vanced Versions
If you currently have YouTube Vanced installed, it‘s best to delete it and avoid opening the app. As mentioned, existing Vanced installs should continue functioning for a while, but likely have unpatched security flaws.
To fully uninstall Vanced:
- Open device settings – On an Android phone or Fire TV Stick, open the Settings app
- Apps/Applications – Navigate to the apps/application manager
- Find YouTube Vanced – Locate YouTube Vanced in the apps list and select it
- Tap uninstall – Choose the option to fully uninstall or delete the app
- Confirm uninstall – Tap OK or confirm to complete uninstalling Vanced
Removing any old modded apps ensures you don‘t open yourself to any risks from outdated code.
2. Download the APK File
Next, you‘ll need to download the APK installer file for your new ad-free YouTube app.
Always download APKs from trusted and official sources, like:
- The developer‘s official website
- GitHub source code repository
- Reputable file hosts like APKMirror
Here are direct links to download the apps mentioned here:
Save the APK file somewhere easy to access, like your device‘s Downloads folder.
3. Enable Unknown Sources
By default, Android devices are set to block installation of apps from "Unknown sources" outside the Google Play Store.
To allow installing APKs directly, you need to enable this capability:
- Go to device Settings
- Select Apps & notifications (may be under Security)
- Find Install unknown apps (also called Enable unknown sources)
- Turn on the switch to enable this setting
You can disable this again after installing your app if desired. But enabling it is required for direct APK installs.
Enabling unknown sources
4. Install the Ad-Free YouTube APK
With the APK downloaded and unknown sources enabled, you‘re ready to install your new modded YouTube app.
- Locate and open the downloaded APK file
- Tap Install on the installation prompt
- Accept requested permissions to proceed
- The app will install within seconds
- Tap Done when completed
The install process only takes a moment. Next you can open and start enjoying ad-free YouTube!
5. Explore and Customize the App
Once installed, open your new ad-free YouTube app from the app drawer. Take some time to:
- Explore the interface
- Adjust any settings to your liking
- Import subscriptions from YouTube
- Set Dark mode if desired
For some apps like SmartTubeNext, be sure to visit the settings and customize options. Toggle notifications, autoplay, video quality and other preferences.
Unfortunately subscriptions and watch history don‘t carry over automatically from YouTube Vanced. You‘ll need to set these up again from scratch. But otherwise enjoy your brand new ad-free viewing experience!
And there you have it – with just those few simple steps, you can install one of the best YouTube Vanced alternative apps. Never see another YouTube ad again!
Why You Should Delete Outdated Modded Apps
Before wrapping up, let‘s talk a bit more about app security and why it‘s important to stay up-to-date.
When an app like YouTube Vanced gets discontinued, that also means it‘s no longer supported with crucial updates. Over time, the old Vanced APK will become outdated and potentially vulnerable.
Some risks of using outdated modded apps include:
- Security flaws – Unpatched bugs could let attackers access your data
- Breaking changes – YouTube changes may break functions like signing in
- Bricks device – Crashes or conflicts could make phone unbootable
- Privacy risks – Data collection could be added if abandoned
Essentially, outdated apps become ticking time bombs. Their code rots until one day catastrophically failing, as opposed to gracefully phasing out.
That‘s why it‘s strongly recommended to delete YouTube Vanced once it stops working properly. Don‘t keep using deprecated software! Switching to an actively maintained alternative is much safer.
The peace of mind of security updates is another perk newer options like SmartTubeNext have over clinging to Vanced. Migrating to one of the recommended replacements above is highly advised.
Final Thoughts on the Future of Modded Apps
YouTube Vanced had a good run providing an essential service to Android users tired of excessive ads. It‘s sad to see such a useful tool get taken down. But the core capability of ad-free YouTube will live on through alternative apps.
Unfortunately, as long as modified apps directly distribute patched APKs, they remain under threat of legal action. Any YouTube alternative could follow down Vanced‘s path if it reaches millions of users.
For now, options like SmartTubeNext and NewPipe continue filling the void at a smaller scale. But eventually, Google may turn its gaze towards the successors as well.
In my opinion, the demand for an ad-free, customized YouTube experience demonstrates a clear desire from users. Instead of playing legal whack-a-mole with modified apps, Google should look to address this need officially through reasonable paid options.
Rather than punishing developers creating better apps, buying a subscription could be a more ethical way to directly support creators while enjoying an ad-free experience.
But what do you think? Are you disappointed to lose YouTube Vanced? What replacement app are you using? I‘d love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below!