YouTube Vanced was a popular modded version of the YouTube app that gave us access to features the free version of the YouTube app wouldn’t (not to mention a few fun extras, like themes and swipe controls). Mainly though, it was popular because it had an ad-blocker, offline downloads, picture-in-picture, and background playback.—things you’d usually have to pay $9.99 per month to get. It was quite popular in the Android community, but alas, it is no more.
But because Google asked Vanced to stop its business, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy ad-free YouTube with background playback. There are plenty of other options.
(Note: If you have Vanced installed right now, it will continue working for the foreseeable future.)
First, a case for YouTube Premium
We’ll get to the “real” Vanced alternatives below but before that, let us make the case for YouTube Premium. Yes, it costs $11.99/month, but it removes ads on all your devices. Your TV, PC, Android smartphone, everywhere. And it gives you access to features like background playback and picture-in-picture.
If you can afford premium, you’re supporting the content creators. And, if you pay for the $14.99/month family plan, you can split the bill with five other users.
The best alternatives to YouTube Vanced
But if you’re unable (or unwilling) to pay for YouTube Premium, you can still use modded YouTube apps, and third-party clients that provide a similar experience to YouTube Vanced.
NewPipe is not a modded version of the YouTube app, like Vanced was. It’s a separate, free, and open-source player for YouTube. It’s lightweight, but it offers the features you care most about: No ads, background playback, and picture-in-picture. NewPipe is the app I have personally used over the past couple of years.
Just like Vanced, NewPipe isn’t available on the Play Store. But you can directly download the APK installer from their website, or you can find the app on the F-Droid app store (an alternate to Google Play Store, which hosts free and open source apps).
This is another free and open-source third-party YouTube app, just like NewPipe. It also offers the basic features you’ll want, including no ads, and background payback.
The only real downside is that this is a view-only app. You can’t sign in to your YouTube account, so there’s no sync feature. The app has its own feature for channel subscriptions and bookmarks.
One clear reason for using Firefox over Google Chrome on Android is its huge gallery of free add-ons. And they’ll come really handy here. If you install the uBlock Origin add-on, you’ll get an ad-free YouTube experience in the browser. Go to Menu > Add-ons > and enable uBlock Origin.
The downside? No features like offline downloads.
Vanced themselves recommend you use the Brave browser to watch ad-free YouTube videos on Android. The app comes with an ad-blocking feature by default, and as long as you have enabled the Shields Up feature for the YouTube site, you should be good to go.
Use an ad-blocking VPN
Alternatively, you can use an ad-free VPN on your Android smartphone. This will stop ads from loading across your devices, and it will protect you from online tracking, as well. Vanced suggests you try Adguard, but you can use any ad-blocking VPN for this purpose.