Ubiquitous Computing: Software above the level of a single device.

This week we discuss Tim O’Reilly’s fifth web 2.0 pattern: Software above the level of a single device. 

We are a world that is fast evolving towards being totally digitally connected. With the adoption of IPv6 the number of devices that can connect to the internet simultaniously increases almost innumerably to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456. O’Reillys fifth pattern discusses best practices for harnessing the technolgical breakthroughs of our time to develop software that connects to the internet seemlessly over multiple devices.


Youtube is web 2.0 that is so popular it is almost synonymous with the word “Internet”. Since it’s inception in Feb 2005 YouTube has been about video content that is for the people, by the people, so it is not at all surprising that its developers are well aware of the importance of software above the level of a single device. The reality is that content wise YouTube can be used as a legitimate resource for almost every facet of our lives – work, play, health, education and relationships. So, it makes sense that YouTube has evolved from offering access in the form of a centralised website to being as adaptable to our new technology as we are, offering apps for almost every platform. Let’s look at how YouTube adheres to to O’Reiley’s best practices.


Design from the start to share data across devices, servers, and networks

From the outset YouTube has strived to offer content accessibility through  providing HTML code along with its videos to enable easy embedding on any web page.

More recently:

One click sharing to almost all social networking platforms including facebook, twitter and google+, which expands on and compliments YouTube’s own ranking and commenting system.

  • YouTube Mobile – launched in 2007 for smartphones utilising RTSP streaming for video, was then relaunched in 2010 using HTML 5 eliminating the need to use the slower adobe flash player and optimising controls for touch screen.
  • June 2007 – Transcoded data to H.264 format in order to achieve compatibility with Apple iPhone, iPod touch and Apple TV
  • 2008 – 2009 – Youtube realises more of its users are accessing from set top boxes and full size screens so releases YouTube For TV and then later YouTubeXL
  • Available as a stand alone app for Apple iOS 5 / iOS 6 since September 2012 when it was dropped as a preloaded app.
  • Tailored applictions  for Playstation 3, Tivo, Xbox live, & Wii

Since day one it is very obvious that YouTube has had its finger on the pulse of its users viewing trends and has attempted to harness the latest technology to make data more available & accessible to users.


Extend Web 2.0 to devices

YouTube offers applictions for almost all of the popular devices including iOS, Android, Xbox Live / 360, Playstation 3, Wii & Tivo and comes pre-packaged in the proprietry software of many smart TV’s, media streaming & cable provider boxes.

Use the power of the network to make the edge smarter

YouTube is able to tailer the viewing experience to your device through smart optimisation of the video bitrate, file format and clientside code to ensure compatibility with multiple devices usually via an app. A good example here is YouTube automatically rendering videos in much lesser resolution for smartphones, dramatically lessening the amount of data that needs to be transferred.

Leverage devices as data and rich media sources

Many smartphones and video cameras have the ability to shoot video and upload directly to YouTube through the relevant application as long as they have access to the internet.

Make one-click peer-production a priority

Almost all devices that have the ability to shoot video and connect to the internet can upload to YouTube in a single click. Often this will occur through utilising third party software and not necessarily an official YouTube app.


Further Reading:

Learn all about YouTube via Wikipedia

Apple drops the YouTube app in iOS 6 

Evolution of YouTube : Beginning of age of personal media

How to share, embed and link YouTube videos

O’Reilly’s 5th Pattern: Software above the level of a single device


9 thoughts on “Ubiquitous Computing: Software above the level of a single device.

  1. I’m glad to see you decided to use Youtube for this post as it is easily one of the best examples of Web 2.0 cross platform integration, it will be interesting to see where they go from here.

  2. Hi! Very great post!

    We can notice that Youtube has invaded all the possible devices, for example if you have one of this new TV connected to Internet, Youtube is already installed and ready to use if you want to see a video in your TV.
    One problem with Youtube in Smartphone is that it uses a lot of data… It is the only disadvantage that I can see.

  3. Hi,
    YouTube has always impressed me with the way it designs the User Interface and experience. Its simple and straight to the point on what it is and what a user needs to do to get viewing or uploading. The design on its mobile application is also great with abilities to tilt the screen for a full screen viewing. Giving the choice of HTML 5 version and flash also opened up opportunities for the application to be ported to many devices.One point that is still an issue when I use YouTube is using YouTube on TVs, the design for YouTube on TV has a long way to go when compared to the web or mobile counter part.


  4. Hi,

    Such an informative, well-organised post, Adam. It is true that YouTube is ahead of its game. To date, nothing can compete close enough to this service on video content category in the internet. It has evolved to match the technological evolution. YouTube’s accessibility to multiple devices signifies its commitment to technological advancement and that is truly software above the level of a single device. It is exciting to know how YouTube empowers people with its innovative initiatives to provide users with ease of access using their smart phones. I am more excited to know how far YouTube will take us forward in terms of video content.

    From the moment that YouTube developers allowed embedding videos on web pages with its HTML code, it has taken its users to great heights in the technological development process. Impressive !!! I am more impressed today as YouTube is in our phones. What’s the next level you think for YouTube??

    P.S It would be a pleasure to work with you towards the case study assignment.


  5. Hi, Awesome post!
    Nice way to open the blog with an interesting fact. Youtube is amazing and the popularity alone can tell you that. Youtube is so easy to use, with high accessibility. Nice to know that they render videos on the mobile, lower to make user experience better while leaving more bandwith as well. What is your intake on how we will be watching videos in the future?

  6. Hi Adam,

    Great post! I think you are definitely right about YouTube having their “finger on the pulse” in regards to this. I think it’s really interesting that they did too… seeing as they are such as media rich website, I would have thought that they would have been wary that people (back in 2007) wouldn’t have the speed and data limits to allow them to watch videos. Do you think this was an issue back then or was 2007 more advanced in that regard than I’m thinking?

    I actually used YouTube as my example of this pattern too… I’ve posed some questions about features YouTube could further implement so it would better implement this pattern – would love to hear your opinion! 🙂

  7. Hi Adam,

    Youtube is a great example for this core pattern. I personally would probably watch more Youtube videos from my phone than I do from my computer (it never used to be that way). This stands as proof that the software works very well, beyond a single device.

    By having a Google account, I am also able to quickly find what I have previously viewed or marked to watch later on any device, as well as having access to channels I have subscribed to with great ease.

    – Matt

  8. Hi Adam

    Youtube is an amazing application that allow people to watch what they want. There are many application and devices that rely on Youtube streaming video ability. There is a Android media box that allow you to watch HD Youtube videos on your TV. There is also an application that allow you to watch Specific video from Youtube which allow you to have the most fun watching what you like. It also good that you can watch Youtube from any devices with or without Youtube apps.

    Prapat W.

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