The newly redesigned YouTube mobile site (m.youtube.com) adds social sharing features and direct video uploading. The new version, which was released August 6, 2009, doesn’t really look much different. The new stuff isn’t visible until you log in. I’ll admit that I didn’t actually have a YouTube account until yesterday, I watch a lot of videos on YouTube, mostly by following links from other sites but I never really felt the need to share my own videos on the site.
In order to try out the updated site I had to create an account, a process I found less seamless than it could to be. I was surprised that nearly three years after Google acquired YouTube, each Google user still needs a separate YouTube account. Once the account is created you can “link” your YouTube and Google accounts and from then on you can log in to YouTube with your Google ID and password. It works but why the extra steps?
With the account created I was ready to try out the new YouTube mobile features. As a logged in user I had access to the following new capabilities; the ability to post comments on videos, share videos with other YouTube users or by Email, add videos to my favorites or to a playlist, rate videos and browse the phone’s file system to find and upload videos directly from my phone (top images). Direct uploading is dependent on your phone browser supporting the html “input” tag’s “file” attribute, which almost all smartphones and many (especially Nokia and Sony Ericsson) feature phones do. If uploading using the YouTube mobile site doesn’t work from your phone, you can upload phone videos to YouTube using MMS or Email by following these instructions.
I continue to be impressed with YouTube’s approach to mobile. It is one of the very few video sites I’ve seen that has thematically consistent URLs across all devices and browsers. That means that any YouTube video URL is device independent and will work in any mobile or desktop browser. I can click on a link to a video on a mobile or desktop site or in Bloglines or Google Reader on my phone or on the desktop and the video will be delivered in a format appropriate for what even device or browser I’m using. It just works and means I can safely share YouTube links without having to worry about the context (iPhone, Opera Mini, S60 Browser, feature phone browser or desktop) that they will be viewed in.
Another nice thing about YouTube is the number and variety of video formats it supports. This isn’t new, but if you are using the built in browser on an S60 3rd edition phone, you can watch YouTube videos in three different resolutions and qualities. On my N95, the mobile web site defaults to showing high quality 220×176 Flash videos embedded in the browser (bottom image). These look nice but can take a minute or two to download even on 3G. If you just want to see the video right now and don’t care about quality, click the “Switch to standard video player” link to view a lower quality 176×144 3gpp steaming version. Choose “Switch to Flash video player (beta)” to go back to the better quality version. And if you to want see the best possible video quality on your phone, choose the “View Desktop Version” link at the very bottom of the page to see the same full-screen Flash Videos that YouTube plays on a PC.
Mobile Link: m.youtube.com
Ratings: Content: Usability:
Ready.mobi Score: 4 “Good”