LibreTube is a free and open source YouTube client for Android that focuses on privacy and providing an ad-free experience. It has been gaining popularity as an alternative to the official YouTube app and other clients like NewPipe. In this extensive review, we will cover LibreTube’s features, interface, performance, privacy protections, and overall usability.
LibreTube is developed by XelXen and Bnyro and licensed under GPLv3. It uses the Piped API to retrieve video data and play videos without needing to connect to Google services or have a YouTube account. Some key aspects of LibreTube include:
Ad-free and tracking-free experience
Support for YouTube features like subscriptions, playlists, comments
Additional privacy protections by proxying requests through Piped
Intuitive Material Design 3 interface
Active development and updates
LibreTube is available on F-Droid and GitHub. The latest version at the time of this review is 0.19.0.
Interface and Design
The LibreTube interface is clean, modern, and easy to navigate. It follows Google’s Material Design 3 guidelines for a smooth and visually appealing experience.
The main interface has a bottom nav bar with three tabs:
Home: Recommended and trending videos
Subscriptions: Latest videos from subscribed channels
Library: Playlists, history, downloads, and favorites
The dark theme uses a grey background with bright blue accents for buttons and highlights. There is also a black OLED theme available.
Videos are displayed as preview thumbnails with channel icon, title, view count, and date. Tapping a video opens it in the built-in player.
The player supports common gestures like swiping to control brightness/volume and double tap to seek. It also has handy features like setting playback speed, repeat mode, and popup mode.
Overall, LibreTube’s interface feels very polished and responsive. The design choices make the app intuitive to navigate and use.
LibreTube aims to provide an experience comparable to the official YouTube app while enhancing privacy. Here are some of the key features:
Search – Search for videos by keywords or channel names. Apply filters like sort order, duration, and features.
Subscriptions – Subscribe to channels to follow new uploads. Organize channels into groups.
Playlists – Create playlists to save and organize videos. Add playlists to favorites for quick access.
Library – View watch history, favorites, downloads, and playlists in one place.
Comments – Read and write comments as anonymous or with your account. Like, dislike, and reply to comments.
Captions – Enable closed captions on videos that have them available. Customize language and text size.
Continuous Playback – Autoplay the next video in a playlist or recommendations after the current video finishes.
SponsorBlock – Automatically skip sponsored segments in videos.
Downloads – Download videos to watch offline. Select video and audio quality.
Popup Mode – Float the player over other apps in a movable window.
Background Play – Continue playback when the app is minimized or screen is off.
Sleep Timer – Set a timer to stop playback after some duration.
Channel Groups – Organize channel subscriptions into groups for easy access.
Dark Theme – Dark theme with OLED black option for minimal battery usage.
Video Filters – Apply filters like grayscale or pixelate on the video.
Local Playlists – Create playlists without an account to organize videos.
Video Settings – Customize resolution, playback speed, loop mode, and other video settings.
As you can see, LibreTube has all the core functionality expected from a YouTube client along with many additional conveniences. The developer is also active and continues adding new features.
One of LibreTube’s biggest selling points is its privacy-focused approach. It takes measures to protect user privacy that go beyond what clients like NewPipe offer.
The key privacy enhancement is that LibreTube uses the Piped API to retrieve video data and streams. Piped acts as a proxy between the app and YouTube’s servers. This prevents Google from directly accessing your IP address or tracking your viewing history.
Piped also handles authentication for managing subscriptions rather than using a Google account. This allows key YouTube features without compromising privacy.
Using Piped’s proxy adds a layer of indirection that protects the user’s information. LibreTube itself does not collect any user data either.
Other Privacy Measures
In addition to using Piped, LibreTube employs other privacy practices:
No tracking – Does not collect or share usage analytics and telemetry data.
No ads – Completely ad-free experience. No video ads or banner ads.
Open source – Fully open source code that is transparent and auditable.
No registration required – All features work anonymously without an account.
Instance changer – Easily switch between different Piped instances.
LibreTube is designed from the ground up with privacy as a priority. Using it provides a peace of mind that your data is not being harvested or monetized.
In my testing on a Pixel 6, LibreTube consistently provided a smooth and snappy experience. Browsing, searching, and loading videos is fast. Playback is reliable with no lag or stuttering.
The app keeps resource usage low – usually under 100MB RAM usage. It uses about the same battery as other YouTube apps when playing videos.
Of course, performance depends on the capabilities of your device as well as the Piped instance used. Servers closer to your location tend to provide better results.
Here are some observations on LibreTube’s performance:
Loading speeds – Pages and videos load swiftly on par with other clients.
Playback – Video playback is smooth. Can play 4K videos without buffering.
Data usage – Optimized streaming won’t waste your mobile data.
Battery life – Typical battery usage for a video streaming app.
Memory usage – Low RAM usage around 50-100MB. Won’t slow down your device.
Reliability – Robust performance even on lower end devices. Crashes or glitches are rare.
Performance is an area where LibreTube shines. The app is well-coded and optimized to offer a smooth experience comparable to more established clients.
Content and Features
LibreTube provides the full YouTube experience in terms of content and core features:
Main feed – Top videos and recommendations based on your region and watch history.
Search – Find videos by keywords, topics, channels, playlists.
Subscriptions – Get the latest uploads from channels you subscribe to.
Trending – View currently trending videos and hashtags.
Music – Search and stream music just like YouTube Music.
Shorts – Watch the latest YouTube Shorts in vertical format.
Live streams – Watch YouTube live streams from creators and events.
Age restricted – View age restricted videos anonymously without signing in.
Playlists – Create playlists to organize videos. Make playlists public to share.
Likes/dislikes – Like or dislike videos to share feedback. See like/dislike counts.
Comments – Read and write comments on videos. Reply and react to other comments.
Captions – Enable closed captions and subtitles if available.
Playback speed – Speed up or slow down playback between 0.25x to 4x.
Resolutions – Select video quality from 144p to 4K based on your preference and connection.
Background play – Keep videos playing with the screen off or while using other apps.
Picture-in-picture – Float the video in a movable window to multitask.
LibreTube does not omit or restrict any genres of content found on YouTube. Everything from music to movies, sports, news, gaming, and more is accessible.
Creating an account unlocks additional features like subscriptions, playlists, and comments. However, it is not mandatory to use LibreTube.
No Google account needed
Sign up with username, password, and optionally an email
Easily switch between anonymous and account modes
Subscribe to channels to follow new videos
Import existing YouTube subscriptions
Organize channels into groups for easy management
Create playlists to save videos
Make playlists public or unlisted to share
Add playlists to favorites for quick access
Sync playlists across devices
Comment on videos in your account identity
Like, dislike, and reply to other comments
Comments sync across devices
Syncs preferences, settings, and viewing history across devices
Recover forgotten password via email
LibreTube’s account implementation is secure and low friction. It does not require any personal information like phone numbers. Users only share what they are comfortable with.
LibreTube offers a user experience that is intuitive and straightforward for the most part. Here are some notable UX aspects:
App launches straight into main feed
Intuitive navigation through bottom bar tabs
First run walkthrough highlights core features
Tip cards explain key functionality
Bottom nav bar provides easy access to main sections
Adaptive icon and app name help identify the app
Familiar layout similar to YouTube app
Gesture navigation supported
Logical grouping of options into sections
Search bar makes finding settings easy
Descriptions explain what settings do
Restore defaults available
Tap video thumbnail or title to play
Player controls fade out automatically
Gestures like pinch-to-zoom and swipe to seek
Auto fullscreen when rotating device
There are still areas that could improve the usability further, like adding a tutorial for account features and streamlining some advanced settings. But overall, LibreTube provides a straightforward user experience.
Help and Support
As an open source project, LibreTube does not offer traditional customer support. However, there are community-driven support channels available:
GitHub Issues – Bug reports and feature requests tracked on GitHub
GitHub Discussions – Ask questions and get help from the community
Reddit – r/LibreTube subreddit for discussions
Telegram – Chat groups for help and announcements
F-Droid – Read user feedback and ask questions
Email – Send product feedback via email
The developers are also active on GitHub in responding to issues and reviewing pull requests.
LibreTube’s community support works reasonably well for an open source project. There are ample venues to get questions answered or problems addressed.
LibreTube is built in Kotlin and uses modern Android development practices. The code is well-structured and maintained making it easy for new contributors to understand and build on.
Here are some highlights of working with the LibreTube codebase:
Comprehensive README – Overview of project architecture and contribution guidelines.
Active development – Regular commits and pull requests with new features and fixes.
Responsive team – Maintainers provide timely feedback and triage issues.
Extensive tests – Unit and instrumentation tests cover critical functionality.
Code quality – Consistent style and conventions enforced with ktlint and detekt.
Dependency management – Build logic abstracted clearly into Gradle scripts.
Version control – Git and semantic versioning used effectively.
LibreTube uses many standard tools like CI/CD, code review, static analysis, and code coverage to maintain quality. Contributing is straightforward for developers familiar with Android.
Comparison With Alternatives
How does LibreTube compare with alternative YouTube apps on Android? Here is a quick rundown of some key competitors:
Official YouTube App
Pros – Offers the full YouTube experience. Stable and reliable.
Cons – Contains ads. Lacks privacy protections. Requires Google account.
Pros – Open source. Doesn’t use Google services. Supports other sites.
Cons – Outdated UI. No account features. Higher crash rate.
Pros – Ad-free experience. Feature-rich. Modern design.