We fixed YouTube subscriptions. For reals.

TL;DR: We are proud to introduce Subscribe Plus – a workaround for the alleged YouTube subscriber bug. Sign up and get a notification whenever you get unsubscribed!

YouTubers say there is a problem

For the last few years YouTubers have talked about involuntary unsubscribes (IUs), being unsubscribed from a channel without their consent. Published reports of IUs date back to The Daily Dot’s 2012 article, “YouTube’s unsubscribe bug ends tonight” but the article’s tagline spells out the end result: “The video-sharing site still denies the bug ever existed.”

Until the top YouTuber spoke out

Felix a.k.a. PewDiePie, the top YouTube channel by every metric, validated other creators when he detailed the IU problem (which he personally claims to have experienced) in a video this December, along with a promise to delete his channel when he hit 50 million subscribers.


PewDiePie: DELETING MY CHANNEL AT 50 MILLION.

Creators jump on board

Other top channels including h3h3 Productions and Pyrocynical weighed in, diving deep into the perceived problems on the platform and bringing the discussion to the forefront.


h3h3Productions: YouTube is Not Being Honest with Us

Pyrocynical: PEWDIEPIE UNSUBSCRIBED TO ME

YouTube responded…

In a pretty unprecedented (but very cool) move, YouTube released a video response. Two YouTube employees, including user experience researcher Renato and subscriptions product manager Zindzi, take some time to explain the problem as it has been described and what they’ve been doing to replicate the bug so that they can find and fix it. The video spells out some interesting details about YouTube policy, but unfortunately the takeaway is that they haven’t found any evidence of the alleged problem.

…and the community fired back

The video was not well received by creators or fans – 89k dislikes with only 2k likes on under 400k views, plus dozens of disapproving response videos from the community. PewDiePie didn’t end up deleting his main channel (he deleted a secondary channel) but Philip DeFranco, one of the long-time top producers on the platform and an entreprenuer in his own right, responded to YouTube’s explanation and to the video’s tone.


YouTube Help: Let’s talk about subscriptions

Philip DeFranco: YouTube Responds to Huge Subscriber Issue… Kinda, But Not Really…

What now?

We don’t have a reason to believe that YouTube would lie about how subscriptions work, and no reason to believe PewDiePie and every other user who spoke out are lying about IUs. With outright lies off the table it seems extremely plausible to us that one of three things are happening:

  1. There exists one or more bug in YouTube which sometimes causes IUs
  2. Users are accidentally unsubscribing without noticing it
  3. A different kind of bug, inside or outside of YouTube

We have our guesses, but we’re a data company so we don’t really like to just guess.

So we’re fixing subscriptions

To help solve the problem, we’re working around it. We came up with Subscribe Plus as a solution to monitor your subscriptions. Now when an IU strikes you’ll be ready.

We monitor your subscritions

We’ll let you know with an email like this one if we notice you unsubscribe from any channels.

When you get a notification from us just click No if you didn’t intend to unsubscribe and we’ll get you re-subscribed!


Never miss an unsubscribe

Author: Kevin Khandjian

@thewebguy Kevin is Head of Operations at VidStats and loves YouTube, statistics, cartoons and fried rice!

How we got Snapchat Spectacles (and why we’re keeping them)

This is the first ever VidStatsX blog post! We wanted this one to be fun so we went all out and got some Snapchat Spectacles to investigate and report back.
TL;DR: Snapchat Spectacles are cooler than we thought, and also super hard to get (unless you want to spend like a grand and buy one right now on eBay [or even more on Amazon] or live in LA and can take the morning off)

How to get Snapchat Spectacles

The Hype (or, why getting Spectacles is so difficult)

Snap, Inc. (the new-ish name for company that made Snapchat) just started selling some weird but very cool camera glasses – but why all the hype?
They are selling them in a unique way
  • Only about 100 are sold per day (though there are reports that more were sold on 11/10)
  • They are sold in-person, from a weird Snapchat vending machine called a Snapbot.
  • They are only available every few days,
  • and only in one location at a time.
No one knows where they’ll show up next.
The location is announced at spectacles.com/map as soon as the Snapbot is available. A countdown appears at the URL until the location reveal appears when there are 24 hours to go.

snapbot asleep snapchat screenshot snapbot countdown snapshot screenshot snapbot map screenshot

Waiting / Countdown / Snapbot location

All the Snapbot pop-up shop locations so far

11/10 Venice Beach, CA Venice Beach Boardwalk
11/13 Big Sur, CA The Big Sur Bakery
11/15 Tulsa, OK Blue Whale of Catoosa on Route 66
11/17 Santa Monica, CA Inside a retro arcade on the pier (very Mr. Robot)
11/19 Pasadena, CA Rose Bowl Stadium
11/20 Meadview, AZ Road near the Grand Canyon
11/21 New York, NY Shop across from Apple store at Central Park – Open through New Years
There is a crazy limited number of them so far.
Even if more were sold on the first day there are only a few hundred of these floating around from the Snapbots. A few YouTubers have been giving them away, so who knows if Snapchat has been spreading more around on the sly but given the number on eBay and how high the prices have stayed, our guess is there are under 800 in circulation.
People want them and are paying a lot for them.
They are already going for over $1,000 on Los Angeles Craigslist and eBay (with a few over $3,000). One eBay user is even offering to fly someone to Australia on his dime if they’ll bring him a pair!
People are giving them away on YouTube.
These two videos have over 1.8 million combinedviews at time this was posted, and almost 300,000 thumbs ups. Keaton from YouTube channel TechSmartt (TechSmartt YouTube stats, channel) got his hands on a few pairs and launched a contest just one day after they first went on sale. Jesse acquired a few and posted the contest after a Spectacles powered daily vlog in LA (PrankvsPrank YouTube stats, channel).

Buying Spectacles, the legit way

The first ones were sold in Venice Beach last week. It was only like 10 minutes from us on bike but we didn’t know it was happening until it was too late.
snapbot rainbow receipt spectacles snapchat
The Snapbot barfs out a rainbow receipt because of course it does.
So this week we knew from the 24 hour countdown that the next Snapbot location was going to be announced at 7:00 this morning, so we got up 10 minutes prior. When we saw that it was on the Santa Monica Pier we rushed out the door and biked there. I thought we could get closer than if we drove (wrong – turns out you can park a car on the pier).
At about 7:25 we rolled up to the pier – just 25 minutes after the location was announced (not bad), but we were already like 100 in line! We waited for 2 hours, until they sold out and didn’t end up getting one since there were still about 40 people in front of us. I’d guess there were 300 more people behind us in line!
Here’s a drone shot of the line we were in – the video embed is pretty blurry here but it’s sharper on Twitter

Buying Spectacles, the other way

Turns out the huge demand and low supply of these mean there are tons to pick from on Craigslist and eBay – as long as you’re willing to pay.
snapchat spectacles for sale on craigslist snapchat spectacles for sale on eBay
So we picked up a pair in teal at a premium via Craigslist. It was easy – we met up in front of a restaurant right by the beach, completed our transaction and headed home. Some people might be annoyed to pay a lot more than what this guy paid for them but that’s just how it goes when there is low supply and huge demand!
If you want something a little easier, try eBay. We analyzed just over 200 sold Spectacles auctions and 77 current auctions – the average price point is (and has been) a little over $815 per unit. In the last week the average price has only dropped by $20, so if you see one for sale under $800 it is one of the better deals available right now. Check out all the current Buy it Now Spectacles on eBay, cheapest first.
If you want the full-service guarantee you can pay well over $1500 for a used set or over $2,000 for new ones you can get your Snapchat Spectacles from Amazon in Teal, or in Black.

Snapchat Spectacles hands-on review

The Spectacles themselves

Look & feel
The glasses are pretty cool. Normally I wear my Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses out so these weren’t exactly my preferred style but they feel close. IMO they have a look somewhere between Wayfarers and the Casey Neistat classics.
teal spectacles head on snapchat
All three available colors (teal, red and black) have yellow rings around the lenses.
The bottom line for me is that they are appropriate. They’re sunglasses, not regular glasses or Google Glass non-glasses. So you really only want to wear them when it makes sense to wear sunglasses, probably when you are outside and doing something fun!
spectacles top button teal snapchat
Remember to pull the sticker off or your Spectacles won’t charge!
Size & fit
The electronics barely add any bulk or weight to the camera, only the part near the arms seems to be thicker if they were just sunglasses. The nose rests are interesting. They seem like tiny erasers heads and they seem to fit snugly.
interior spectacles snapchat glasses shot
The recording indicator light on the interior of the Spectacles.
I wear glasses normally (my Wayfarers are prescription) so I’ve been putting these in front of my standard specs with no real issue (looks goofy though, srsly considering contacts again). They probably aren’t big enough if your head is much larger than average.

Cameras

There are 2 camera lenses, the one on the wearer’s left side has a ring of indicator lights around it. There’s also an indicator light on the inside of the Spectacles that you can see in the corner of your eye while wearing them.
Quick primer on the LEDs:
  1. Rolling exterior lights mean the camera is rolling.
  2. Double tap the side of the glasses and rising exterior lights show remaining battery.
  3. The interior light is on when rolling & starts blinking when you’ve got 3 seconds left.
Pairing Spectacles
Pairing them takes just a few seconds – except when it doesn’t. The first time I tried it was easy: turn bluetooth on, pull up your QR in Snapchat, press the button and look at the screen. No need to pair in your system preferences. When you finish recording a video it starts transferring to your phone. Some of my transfers seemed to get interrupted.
But sometimes it just doesn’t pan out. When swapping between a few phones it seems to have trouble pairing, but the app is smart and tells you what to do (hold the button for 7 seconds to reset, restart phone, etc) so we were always able to get it to switch to a new phone within a few minutes worst case.
Using Snapchat Spectacles
Press the only button to start recording, it only takes a moment to begin. It will always record for 10 seconds unless you tap the button again to extend it for 10 more seconds, or hold the button to stop recording.
My experience is that it keeps the last 30 videos (in high quality) in memory and new recordings just push the previous ones out, rather than them deleting on import.
Every snap from your specs is stored into a “Specs” tab in your Snapchat Memories – they don’t go live directly. So when you want to post one you have to do it from memories – you can edit it like any other snap, but you can’t post Spectacles snaps to local snap stories unfortunately.

Packaging & Case

Spectacles are dispensed in a capsule, sort of like what tennis balls or really classy men’s underwear are packaged in. It’s high quality though, it keeps the case suspended securely and has a nice seal like Tupperware. You could probably keep leftovers fresh inside of it, but I don’t know why you would want to.

spectacles inside of capsule packaging

inside spectacles container
Press that button to see how much juice the case has left.
Inside is the case, which is a speckled yellow color. There is a high quality Spectacles logo woven tag attached, and the hinge is fabric with a magnetic clasp. It feels kind of rubbery and awesome and it is also the charger! There is a magsafe-like connector that connects to the case and charges it up like a Mofie.
spectacles case out
The grooves in the bottom of the capsule and the lid keep the case securely in place.
snapchat specs with charger case
A magnet keeps the Spectacles in place while charging.
Then you plug your glasses inside of the case, and the case charges the glasses. It can charge them up like 4 times – there is a button to see how much juice is left in the case, just like MacBooks used to have. I love how the charger case is a constant reminder to both keep the glasses protected and charged.
spectacles in case
Inside the case behind the Spectacles is a small package with basic instruction stuff, a glasses wipe in the shape of Ghostface Chillah (yes, that is the official name of the Snapchat ghost logo / mascot designed by a guy that allegedly got Zuckerburged by the other founders), and a USB cable to charge it, but no power brick. Charging is a breeze having a charger-case probably helped them keep such a low profile on the frame.

Spectacles video quality & examples

Standard video quality is fine for Snapchat but not so great exported. HD mode looks much better. I didn’t figure out HD mode until I was importing Dan’s kickball videos, huge bummer
Standard mode (default) 1080 x 1080
Watching these on Snapchat is dope because you rotate your phone to see the rest of the picture, in real time. Sure, showing 180 degrees of video as a circle inside of a square gives some impression of the point of view feel it’s going for, but it’s not nearly as cool as watching it from the app.

Biking to Blue Star Donuts

They were super easy to use while riding a bike to get donuts with my wife Sarah.

Cooking hibachi fried rice

 I can snap while cooking fried rice (seriously, I have been dying for something like this).

Drifting an electric go-cart

Having fun on the crazy cart doing drifting and doing some donuts.

Playing kickball

Our good friend Dan Dobi borrowed them to show the world just how it feels to totally dominate at kickball.

#SnapChatSpectacles are PRETTY rad. 😎 #kickball #waka #pov

A video posted by Dan Dobi (@dandobi) on

These look cool but you are missing if you aren’t seeing these on Snapchat. Watching someone’s Spectacles video is like having a Mystery Guitar Man effect in real life.

My Impression

These things are awesome. At $130 they are a great deal, at $1000+ they are not. It’s crazy how much fun these are, they’re like the toy of the year, but better.
I definitely don’t want to make every snap with these, but there is a certain kind of snap I want to much much more often when these are an option. Spectacles have the retro-nostalgic feel of the photo and electronics section at Urban Outfitters, but the price isn’t outrageous and the product isn’t a knockoff. It might seriously be the holiday gift of the year.

Yeah, but wearables?

I get it but Spectacles aren’t meant to be worn all the time. They don’t try to become a part of your body, they don’t want to manage your calendar or push any notifications to you. They could only be less similar to Google Glass if they weren’t worn on your head.

Author: Kevin Khandjian

@thewebguy Kevin is Head of Operations at VidStats and loves YouTube, statistics, cartoons and fried rice!