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Apple TV's YouTube app gets a rare overhaul

Google's massive video site refreshes its app for Apple TV -- one of the most popular boxes to connect your television to online clips -- making it easier to search and watch.

YouTube has updated its app for Apple TV with a new look and feel. YouTube/Screenshot by Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Google's YouTube video site updated its app for Apple's set-top box Tuesday, refreshing it with a new design, personalized recommendations, predictive search and the ability to subscribe to channels right from the television.

The overhaul refreshes the world's biggest online video source on one of the world's most popular over-the-top boxes.

YouTube, sometimes still thought of as a hotbed of cat videos, is one of the most expansive media platforms on the planet. More than a billion unique visitors check out the site every month to watch more than 6 billion hours of video -- making YouTube the leading source of Internet traffic on the globe, according to researcher Sandvine. Meanwhile, over-the-top boxes like Apple TV are surging in popularity. Research group Parks Associates estimates sales of such streaming-media devices will top 57 million worldwide in 2018, nearly tripling from 20 million last year.

According to an announcement video on -- appropriately -- YouTube, the app now puts the full site's experience on your television via Apple TV. It follows a revamp to YouTube's over-the-top interface that was first rolled out on Xbox One earlier this year.

The Apple TV app for YouTube hasn't been so extensively revamped in several years. Though Apple TV is one of the world's best-selling boxes of its kind, detractors criticize its relatively spare catalog of supported channels and the infrequency with with those channels are updated.

Apple said it added several smaller apps to its lineup: Conde Nast Entertainment's The Scene, which has videos from content providers like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue; news, pop culture and satire network Fusion; UFC.TV with access to live ultimate-fighting programming through a subscription; and Dailymotion, a video-sharing website similar to YouTube but smaller.

Update 8:55 a.m. PT: Noted the addition of other channels to Apple TV.