When Sony’s latest handheld gaming platform, the Playstation Vita, launched in February the selection of applications was small but functional. The social media essentials such as Facebook and Twitter were accounted for, and Netflix and Skype followed shortly thereafter. The overall selection may have felt bare-bones, especially for those of us who have been spoiled by the abundance of apps available on our smart phones, however the essential bases were covered. That is, except for one that has been surprisingly absent all this time, YouTube. The good news is that the wait is over, and those who were hoping to watch videos on their Vita will have a new reason to smile.

The YouTube app, which is now available as a free download from the Playstation Store, will contain most of the core functionality the service offers on other handheld devices. In addition to watching videos, you can search the YouTube database for specific videos, leave comments and and receive video recommendations from YouTube. The Vita also supports high-definition video playback, up to 720p, and videos can be watched in either full screen or small screen modes. The latter option gives you access to the toolbar buttons, which includes Favorites, Like and Dislike, and Flag, as well as the ability to view video information and read comments.

Functions reportedly lacking  on the Vita include the ability to comment on other people’s comments, a feature that has proven quite useful when I’ve asked things like “What’s the name of the song playing in at 2:52?”.  The bigger feature that is apparently not included is the ability to record videos and upload them directly from your Vita, which is odd considering that it’s a standard function on most YouTube smart phones apps. These are issues that will hopefully get patched in the near future. Another common problem when watching YouTube videos on mobile devices is that some are not viewable due to restrictions set by the content creator, which often results in an error message popping up. It is unknown if Vita owners will experience this problem as well.

This is essentially the first time that Vita owners will get to enjoy YouTube on the device, as the native web browser does not support the video playback. The Vita, being a gaming platform, will benefit greatly from its inclusion by allowing gamers to switch from games to videos on the same device. This will no doubt prove handy for those of us who turn to video walkthroughs when we get stuck in a game.