Youtube: Getting It Right

youtube
I am on the train when I get the word. Miley Cyrus has released her new video. Naked and
swinging from a wrecking ball apparently. I am immediately overcome by an inclination to whip out my trusty smart phone and watch it. As much as I could give or take the increasingly scandalous offerings of Billy Ray’s younger daughter, this is current. Miley Cyrus is trending off the wall lately and I want to be involved in the conversation.

Yet I refrain. The opinion of a cellphone sales rep a few months prior resonates through my brain.
“It should be good for day to day use,” he had told me when I enquired about my data
requirements. “It’s sites like Youtube that are the killer.”
And so I reluctantly curb by pop culture appetite and resolve to scrutinize the video when I get home and back to the land of the WiFi. I just can’t spare the data for Youtube sessions on the train.

Sound familiar? Probably. Whether you’re standing in line at the movies, waiting on a bus or just hanging around while your other half tries to pick out a pair of shoes, Youtube is your own personal and seemingly endless library of entertaining and/or informative video content, just waiting to help you pass the time. Alas unless you’ve got your modem in your bag, it’s going to have to be 3G or bust.

That is, my friends, until now.

On September 17th, Youtube announced, via it’s Creator Blog, that it’s introducing a new feature for it’s mobile app.

Starting in November users will be able to store videos from the site on to their devices for later viewing when there is no internet connectivity. That means you can pick your videos while you have an internet connection and have at them at your leisure long after your connection is gone.Pretty nifty eh?

Here’s a quote from the brief and relatively vague blog post:
“This upcoming feature will allow people to add videos to their device to watch for a short period when an Internet connection is unavailable. So your fans’ ability to enjoy your videos no longer has to be interrupted by something as commonplace as a morning commute.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “Why is this relevant? Didn’t Youtube announce this last year?” Well, close but not quite. In June 2012 the site came out with the ability to precache videos for later viewing. The gist being that while, yes, your videos would be preloaded from your device, you still had to be online to actually watch them.

What makes the latest announcement so relevant, in addition to being incredibly innovative and just downright handy, is that it is a huge step for Youtube whose terms of service currently prohibit downloading of content. Not since its inception in 2005 has the company allowed users to do so, thus rendering this a pioneering move for the media giant.

Proving that being the dominant force in online video sharing is no excuse to rest on one’s
laurels, the update is the next step in a succession of recent developments by Google-owned
Youtube for it‘s mobile app in an effective attempt to keep up with the smart phone society we live in. In addition to last year’s preached video feature, in August of this year, the site unveiled a sleek new navigation tool that allows users to watch a minimized video while continuing to browse the site, enabling an easier flow of content and increased usage.

Unfortunately though, the most recent update of the app comes with a catch. You didn’t think Youtube would let us download all the content we want just like that did you? According to reputable tecch blog, AllThingsD.com, via an email sent from Youtube, content downloaded to the “on device” section of the app will only be available to watch offline for a period of 48 hours, after which time, users must reconnect to the internet in order to refresh the selection.

There is no indication yet as to whether the site has secured rights to allow music videos to be downloaded, however temporary, but it’s definitely not something I would assume to be the case. Youtube has promised more details in the run up to the update next month.

Still though. Overall, it sounds pretty generous to me. And with mobile viewing comprising over 25% of Youtube’s global watch time, there is little wonder why the company is taking every step to remain relevant and socially up-to-date in this fast-paced electronic generation. It’s exciting and simply begs the question, “what next?”.

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