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YouTube Go app seeks to reach more than 130 countries

The app is part of YouTube's duel with Facebook, as the two giants race to lure video viewers in regions where mobile internet is more of a luxury.


YouTube's data-light app YouTube Go, now in 15 countries, will expand to more than 130 nations, the company said in a blog post Thursday. 

Launched first in India last year, the YouTube Go app is designed to work with little to no connectivity, use less data and make recommendations more tailored to where you live.

YouTube Go is also a crucial competitive move against rivals like Facebook. Both Facebook and Google's YouTube have amassed billions of users across the world. Now they face the challenge of recruiting new members in places where mobile internet can be hard to come by or expensive. As Facebook campaigns to swipe more video viewing away from YouTube, both companies are jockeying to lure in consumers in emerging economies, and those viewers are more likely to shy away from a data-draining format like video.  

Facebook, for example, started an initiative called Free Basics, which provided no-cost free access to Facebook and several other approved services. The venture, however, ran into backlash for potentially setting up a two-tier Internet that would divide the rich and the poor.

Since YouTube Go's launch in India, Google's service has widened to 14 more countries, including Indonesia, Nigeria and Thailand. "We're excited to expand YouTube Go to over 130 countries around the globe starting today," YouTube product manager Jay Akkad said Thursday in YouTube's blog post. 

YouTube also touted some feel-good examples of how YouTube Go has been used. A startup in Indonesia uses it to equip women with financial skills to start and run small businesses, and a primary-school teacher for low-income children in Lagos, Nigeria, says it gives her videos that help teach math and other lessons. 

The company also noted it has made some design changes to YouTube Go. It's given viewers more control over the quality that they stream or download and made it easier to share multiple videos at once or share from the home page. The app also introduced a feature to refresh its home screen with new personalized content with a pull-down of the screen. 

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