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PlayStation 3 finally has a native YouTube app, adds smartphone controls (update: hands-on)

PlayStation 3 finally has a native YouTube app, adds smartphone controls (update: hands-on)

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Google has revealed a native YouTube app for Sony's PlayStation 3, which finally lets the games console stream HD video from the popular social network.

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Back in 2009, before video game consoles became the streaming video boxes they are today, it was exciting to have any leanback YouTube experience at all — even a sluggish web app that could only stream pitifully low-res video from within the PS3's aging browser. Three and a half years after that initial tease, though, Google is finally delivering the goods: a native YouTube app for PlayStation 3. It's a free download from the PlayStation Store, and while details are scarce for now, it should support HD video, suggest search results as you type them, access video subscriptions from your account, and let you use a connected smartphone as a remote control. You should be able to find it later today in North America, with other countries to follow. We're grateful, to be sure, but Sony's mystery PS3 video service can't come soon enough.

Update: Google posted a blog post on the new YouTube PS3 app this morning, but there isn't much in the way of new details — the company focuses on the suggested search results, subscribed channels, and using a phone as a remote. There's a little more detail on that smartphone integration: after "a quick pairing process," users can control YouTube from their phone or search for a videon on the phone directly and then have it play back over the PS3. There's no word on what specific phones are supported, however.

Update 2: It's live on the PlayStation Store, and we just gave it a go. Make no mistake, it's worlds better than the previous YouTube experience on PS3, but there's still a lot to be desired. While video browsing occurs in a lovely full-screen twin-axis interface and autocomplete search works just as promised, the video quality is sorely lacking still: over our 18Mbps AT&T U-Verse connection, all of the "1080p" videos we played didn't actually seem to display at anything near the crispness of 1080p resolution, and there doesn't seem to be a way to manually tell the app to do so. The app's also not without its bugs: preview images won't always load properly, the screen resolution went out of whack a few times, and once during testing the app actually crashed our PS3, requiring a reboot.

On the plus side, you can indeed control the whole experience from a smartphone or tablet, and quite easily too, as you can pair it with any mobile web browser, the YouTube Remote app for Android, or via native support in the newer version of the standard YouTube app that comes with the likes of the Nexus 7. Just be sure that device is connected to the same local area network as your console.