Two new modes of viewing for YouTube fans were released late yesterday, one designed for kicking back in front of your screen and ‘clip surfing’, and the other aimed at a more mobile-friendly user experience.
Although the beta version of YouTube Leanback at first glance seems to be the bigger change of the two new services, with autoplay of videos that are picked based on your tastes and what your friends are watching, and no need to hit the play button, it could be that YouTube Mobile is the killer app.
The new YouTube Mobile site is designed to work best on mobile web browsers on iPhones and Android handsets. It is touch-friendly and allows you to favourite, like an unlike videos within the browser.
In other words, this Google web app does the job of the custom YouTube app already on the iPhone but actually looks a little slicker, loads a little faster and prompts you to add it complete with web app YouTube icon to your iPhone homescreen.
YouTube cites a recent Morgan Stanley report predicting that within five years more users will connect to the internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs as one of the driving forces behind making their websites and services more mobile friendly.
The reason for going down the route of their own platform-agnostic web apps rather than having updates on specific apps is pretty clear.
"As we make improvements to YouTube.com, you’ll see them quickly follow on our mobile site, unlike native apps which are not updated as frequently," said Andrey Doronichev, product manager at YouTube.
Meanwhile, the Leanback service sounds quite good: "This feed is based on your YouTube settings and preferences, including content from your subscriptions and videos your friends are sharing on Facebook (assuming you’ve connected your YouTube account to your Facebook account).
"You can also watch the most popular comedy, entertainment, news, or more. And if you don’t care for the video that’s playing, use the right arrow key on your keyboard to skip ahead to the next video, or try the up/down arrows to search, access player controls, and browse channels and videos. You won’t need your mouse for this experience," added Doronichev.