arkTube is a Light Weight, Feature-Filled YouTube Audio and Video Downloader [XDA Spotlight]

arkTube is a Light Weight, Feature-Filled YouTube Audio and Video Downloader [XDA Spotlight]

XDA Recognized Developer arter97, a prolific ROM, kernel, and root mods developer who is very active in our forums, has also developed one of the most fully-featured and easy to use YouTube video and audio downloading applications available for Android – arkTube.

UPDATE: A new version has also been pushed out to resolve the “unsupported video” error some users experienced.

Though applications that allow you to download from YouTube are not new, most of them have some limitations. Some of the more popular ways to download from YouTube involved installing modified versions of the YouTube application or to use an Xposed module, but either of these methods would require frequent updates due to Google making many changes to the YouTube application. Furthermore, the use of an Xposed module necessarily requires root access and an Android version that is supported by the framework, so many of us running Android Nougat were out of luck.

If you have some familiarity with python scripts, you may have heard of youtube-dl – one of the most popular command line programs to download videos or audio from YouTube. It comes with a plethora of options to grab the source video in whatever resolution or format you want as well as any of the embedded metadata. Some applications such as Videoder or Tubemate make use of youtube-dl, but these mostly function as a wrapper for the YouTube application. For those of you seeking a more barebones alternative (but with all of the powerful features of youtube-dl), we would like to bring arkTube to your attention.


arkTube – a YouTube Downloader without the Bloat

Once you install the application and enable the settings that you want, this minimalist YouTube downloader is summoned by sharing any video or playlist YouTube URL to the application. You have the option to select downloading the video or the audio straight from the share menu. If you select to download the video, you are presented with a dialog asking you which resolution and framerate quality you want to grab. If you select to download audio, the download will automatically begin according to your preset preferences.

While the free version will give you basic support and access to several of the most useful features, the paid version (just $1.99!) is where the application truly shines. (Note that as with any YouTube downloading application, arkTube cannot be found on the Play Store – but the pro version unlocker is available there.)

The application provides multiple detailed options for export resolution qualities and audio/video codecs. arkTube automatically decides whether to export videos as MP4s or MKVs based on whether the original video codec is VP9 or H.264. Audio has three codec options, with Vorbis or Opus OGG codecs providing smaller file sizes at the cost of guaranteed compatibility, and AAC/M4A as the default choice.

Export resolution quality options range from 240p to 8k @60fps (though the free version is limited to a maximum 720p @ 60fps), with every resolution offering a choice of the default framerate or 50/60 frames per second if the video supports it. There is also an automatic resolution selection option which will allow you to more quickly download videos at a desired resolution rather than ask you which quality you want. Note that enabling the auto select resolution feature is required in order to download video playlists.

This is nevertheless just the tip of the feature iceberg that is arkTube. We’ll run down the list of important features based on our experience using the application.

  • Download entire playlists, and order the downloads by most the recent first or oldest first. Option to add playlist number to order each item in the playlist.
  • File size estimates are provided for each different quality available.
  • Multiple storage options (internal and external storage support)
  • Metadata is automatically populated for all audio (free and paid), providing the title and channel. Video metadata requires the pro version.
  • Up to 8 simultaneous downloads with download threading support (for faster downloads).
  • Pause/resume downloads
  • Sleek Material Design implementation.

We tested out arkTube on many popular YouTube videos to see how it handles metadata, and we came away impressed. For starters, the captioning and other metadata such as the YouTube video description was appropriately stored. In my experience with other YouTube downloading applications, few have been able to store metadata as cleanly as arkTube.

As you can see in the screenshots above, all metadata for this video have been properly scraped from the YouTube page. Given how much metadata there was to obtain, this resulted in an output video that essentially is a carbon copy of what you would see on YouTube.

Next, we were also impressed with how effortless arkTube handled YouTube playlists. When you select to download a playlist, you can download each item as either a video or audio. You have the option to download them in forward or reverse chronological order, too. Once initialized, you can see the progress of the video downloads in the status bar. Although there are many videos being downloaded, rest assured that arkTube does not clog up your status bar – your download notifications are collapsed until you expand them.

As you can see in the third screenshot, I chose to download the files as .ogg files and furthermore the playlist is listed with track numbers in chronological order. Though I chose to save these videos on the internal storage, as mentioned in the feature list up top you can select any directory on your device for storage.

For example, you can choose to save to an external SD card, allowing for less space anxiety if you find yourself saving multiple gigabytes of videos. The process of choosing external storage as the save point is a few steps long, but is simple enough and arkTube itself guides the user through the process.

If you are downloading many gigabytes worth of video or audio, it would usually be painful for your download to finish. But arkTube presents some nifty download acceleration options to speed up the process. You can enable simultaneous downloads as well as multiple download threads to greatly improve download times, though at the cost of additional bandwidth use.


Conclusion

arkTube’s main advantage as a YouTube downloading application is its light-weight and unobtrusive way of allowing you to grab audio or video from YouTube. Couple that fact with its many powerful customization options, and it’s easy to see why this application has quickly become my go-to for downloading from YouTube. No longer will I have to rely on other applications that try to mimic YouTube’s UI or fiddle with python scripts – arkTube wraps up the best youtube-dl features in a minimalist UI.

arkTube is truly underappreciated for how well-made the application is, and I would like to give a shout out to arter97 for their exceptional work!

Check out arkTube from our forums!

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