YouTube will no longer offer its Leanback web interface that is intended for TVs and other devices. So far, users could access the interface through the web. As a result, HTPC owners got a better YouTube experience while browsing.
However, the users can still visit the web interface by navigating to youtube.com/tv. But they will get a notification saying, “this version of YouTube will be going away soon. You’ll still be able to view youtube.com, but you can get an optimized experience on a supported device.”
The YouTube Leanback interface was made available for the users from 2010 as an experimental Android application which acted as an automatic playback client for when you didn’t want to search and navigate through videos yourself. Since then it became an interface for devices for which there is no official YouTube support.
According to an Android Police report, as Google is likely trying to limit streaming boxes, home theater PCs, and other TV-based devices from accessing YouTube unless there is some of licensing agreement between the manufacturer and Google itself. On the contrary, Leanback is only a web app, therefore it could be used on various platforms, example Raspberry Pi’s, home theater PCs, smart TVs with a web browser and much more.
Since Amazon’s Fire TV products access YouTube through Leanback after Google pulled its official app, it will get more difficult for Amazon Fire TV products to carry on their work. The report also suggests that “perhaps Google is doing this to prevent Amazon from retreating to unofficial TV apps if the companies’ current partnership ever sours”.
To conclude, if YouTube stops its Leanback web interface, the situation will likely get difficult for HTPC and other devices which are not supported by YouTube. However, it is uncertain when YouTube will cease its Leanback services. But after that, users can visit YouTube via an app.