I had intended to write about a little Firefox extension called GoogleTube a few months ago, but then things happened and I didn’t. I checked it out again recently to see what, if anything, had changed, so figured I’d write about it now.
What is GoogleTube? It’s a little extension for Firefox that makes viewing information about YouTube videos (as they appear in Google search results, as well as Bing and Yahoo results), a simple matter. You can also view the YouTube video, directly from the search engine results page, in a pop-up viewer. There is also a function to download videos, but I was never able to accomplish this. It’s possible a change in how YouTube serves videos broke something in GoogleTube, however, especially since GoogleTube hasn’t been updated for a few months. One other quibble is that if I close the pop-up window with the regular window buttons, it disappears just fine, but has a hard time appearing again when launched from a search engine results page. If I close it using the “X” button above and to the right of the video, it behaves correctly.
Still, regardless of how downloading works (or doesn’t), and other interface irregularities, the other features are enough to make me at least take notice of it. Again, once installed, GoogleTube watches your search engine results for YouTube videos. When one appears, you’ll see three additional icons beside the result. The first is a red icon that when pushed, launches a pop-up video player that immediately starts playing the YouTube video in question. The huge advantage to this is that your search engine page stays in place, so if you finish the video and want to move onto the next result, just close the player and there you are, ready to go.
The second icon that appears is a green arrow that when pushed, should – in theory – download the video. Again, this never worked for me (on a dozen or so videos I attempted to download). The possibilities I never got this to work could have to do with my using Linux, or as mentioned earlier, a YouTube update could have broken this functionality.
Last, a little blue and white icon appears that when clicked reveals information about the YouTube video, such as when it was uploaded, how many times it has been viewed, how many ratings and how many comments.
The player itself, once launched, has a couple more features. Beyond the obligatory themes (choose from eight different colored skins), you can view a list of videos related to the one you’re currently viewing, as well as perform a search. The search function reveals your search results immediately below the player (in the same window), so viewing those is a snap as well.
There’s nothing wrong with the regular YouTube web page. It’s fast enough, and recent changes have updated the player (and the speed). But it’s kind of nice to be able to use YouTube without actually going to YouTube, and GoogleTube makes that possible. It definitely has a few issues. But still and all, it’s a nice addition to anyone’s lineup of Firefox extensions.