Juno: Christian Selig’s YouTube App for VisionOS

Christian Selig (developer of the late great Apollo client for Reddit):

At its core, Juno uses the YouTube website itself. No, not scraped. It presents the website as you would load it, but similar to how browser extensions work, it tweaks the theming of the site through CSS and JavaScript.

That results in:

  • Tweaking backgrounds so the beautiful glassy look of visionOS shows through. As the great Serenity Caldwell once said, “Opaque windows can feel heavy and constricting, especially at large sizes. Whenever possible, prefer the glass material (which pulls light from people’s surroundings).
  • Increasing contrast so items are properly visible
  • Making buttons like the button to view your subscriptions native UI, and then loading the relevant portions of the website accordingly
  • You get your full recommendations, subscriptions and whatnot, just as you would on the normal YouTube site or app

It was a lot of work tweaking the CSS to get the YouTube website to something that felt comfortable and at home on visionOS, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. Does it feel like a perfectly native visionOS app? Well no, but it’s a heck of a lot nicer than the website, and to be fair Google apps normally do their own thing rather than use iOS system UI, so not sure we’ll ever fully see that. :)

What a brilliant way to approach the problem of creating a third-party YouTube client. Rather than using APIs to create a YouTube client from the ground up — which likely wouldn’t work, practically speaking, because Google’s API limits are so restrictive, because Google doesn’t want developers making alternative YouTube client apps — Selig instead has created a dedicated web browser just for youtube.com that uses CSS and WebKit extension jiggery-pokery to completely restyle the YouTube web interface to look like a native VisionOS app.

I’ve been using Juno for the last week — in fact, I sent Selig some bugs I encountered on-device that didn’t manifest in the VisionOS Xcode simulator — and I’ve already gotten more than $5 of entertainment value from it. Using Juno is just so much better than visiting youtube.com in Safari on Vision Pro. It’s not just prettier (though it is very pretty) — it’s far more usable, because the tap targets are generally bigger and more spread apart.

It’s my favorite and most-used third-party VisionOS app so far. $5 one-time purchase. Cheap!

Thursday, 8 February 2024