YouTube has announced a list of new features that it will be rolling out this year, including additions to YouTube TV, YouTube Shorts, and more.
In a blog post, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said that YouTube TV will be made a more full-featured in-home cable alternative and will let subscribers watch shows in 4K, stream programming to an unlimited number of devices at home, as well as downloading content for viewing offline. The company also revealed plans to expand Shorts, its answer to China’s TikTok (which is currently banned in India with a host of other Chinese apps), add customization and control options to YouTube Kids, and other plans.
YouTube’s roadmap of 2021 is a combination of both expanding existing tests and beta features, and adding features that have never been seen before which could significantly change how the platform works for creators and audiences alike. Rumors of the expansion of a new e-commerce feature of the platform to let its viewers buy products directly from the channels of the creators have surfaced. Automatically adding video chapters to relevant videos, personalized mixes on YouTube Music, and letting fans purchase “applause” for their favorite channels are on the cards as well.
“Together, this group of products will further fuel the ambitions of today’s pioneers in the creative economy and their next-generation media companies,” Mohan wrote in his blog post. He said that his post was the first in an ongoing blog series offering behind-the-scenes updates on tech and product development at YouTube.
YouTube TV will receive an update that will let its viewers watch all available shows in 4K while giving them the option to download them for watching offline. Additionally, the premium option will contain unlimited concurrent streams at home “so that the whole family can enjoy YouTube TV on different screens at once,” Mohan said in his post.
Mohan also unveiled YouTube’s plans to expand Shorts, made in response to the soaring popularity of Chinese video-making app TikTok, in the US, letting its users record, edit, and share short videos of 60 seconds. Mohan claimed that the number of Indian creators using Shorts has tripled since its launch in the country and that Shorts now have more than 3.5 billion daily views globally.
“Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar of creation too high,” Mohan wrote in the post, saying that the purpose of Shorts was to let creators and artists shoot “snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”
The company also announced plans to take one step further from letting creators earn from fan purchases in live-streams. It announced plans for a new “applause feature” that will let viewers buy a virtual cheer of support for their favorite YouTube channels. Plans for a new integrated shopping experience were also revealed, which will let viewers make purchases directly on YouTube.
Plans for automatically adding video chapters to relevant videos were announced, putting an end to the manual putting of chapters by the creators. The second half of 2021 will also witness a new and redesigned YouTube Virtual Reality (VR) homepage to improve navigation, accessibility and search functionality.
The video platform plans to add new features for user playlists on YouTube Music, making “more personalized mixes centered around the everyday activities and moods enjoyed with music.” The playlists will also be more discoverable to others.
The final feature announced is the inclusion of new parental tools on the YouTube Kids platform, including the option that lets parents specify individual channels and videos from the main YouTube platform for their children to watch on YouTube Kids.
One thing is known for sure. 2021 promises to be an interesting year for YouTube users.