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By Abhay V
YouTube's video player UI refresh now rolling out to Android TV and Fire TV users
by Abhay Venkatesh
YouTube is refreshing its video player UI on Android TV and Fire TV stick to adapt to larger screens by moving the title and reducing icon sizes. The refreshed design is rolling out to all users on the two platforms, which seems to be a server-side change.
The new player UI (spotted by 9to5Google) now ditches the play and skip buttons from the screen completely and moves the title of the video from the bottom section – where it was present right above the seek bar – to the top of the screen. The title font also is smaller, making it less intrusive when accessing other options or when watching a video while tweaking some settings.
The bottom section features a cleaner design too, hiding most of the other options such as the icon for selecting video quality, like, dislike, and more. These options are hidden under an expandable menu icon which can be accessed on-tap, right next to the channel logo, and the captions button. The design is identical on both Android TV and Fire TV.
The search giant is expected to unveil the Chromecast with Google TV dongle along with the Pixel 5, the Pixel 4a 5G, and more at its event next week. It will be interesting to see if the company unveils any changes to its software offerings during the event.
YouTube expands voting information to help inform users
by Paul Hill
As we head towards the 2020 U.S. presidential election, YouTube has made improvements to give users authoritative voting information when they browse content relating to the 2020 presidential or federal Congressional candidates on YouTube. The panel will provide users with information on candidates in the search results.
In addition, if someone looks on YouTube to find out how to register to vote or how to vote, YouTube will provide additional information panels on these topics. The information will be available in both English and Spanish to reach the highest number of people.
In the run-up to voting day, YouTube and its other social media accounts will provide information on how to register, how to vote, and where to vote. Additionally, it’ll display information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about volunteering at the polls so you can get more involved.
As YouTube is a video platform with live streaming capabilities, you’ll be able to tune into live coverage from various sources during election events including the debates, election night coverage, and the inauguration. Going forward, YouTube is striving to be a reliable source of news and information and a place where healthy political discourse can take place.
By Jay Bonggolto
YouTube will launch a new age-verification requirement for some European users
by Jay Bonggolto
YouTube announced today a new expansion to its age-verification requirements in Europe. The video-sharing service said some users in the region will need to confirm their age in the coming months before they are able to watch age-restricted content.
In a blog post announcing the upcoming change, YouTube said the age-verification policy is in compliance with the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive. That means some users in the region must submit proof of age when they try to watch videos with age limitations in cases where YouTube is unable to confirm that they're of the right age. These requirements include a valid ID or credit card indicating that the user is above the age of 18.
Today's announcement is part of YouTube's broader effort to automatically filter the types of users who can view content on the platform based on age. Over the coming months, it's rolling out changes that it says "will result in more videos being age-restricted". These changes will rely on its machine learning-powered technology to identify age-sensitive content and automatically apply age limitations.
For content owners who feel their videos were erroneously restricted, YouTube will let them appeal the decision. The service added that the new changes will have minimal impact on the revenues of YouTube Partner Program members since most of these videos already have limited or no ads for violating its advertiser-friendly rules. To ensure content is available only to its appropriate audience, YouTube will redirect users who attempt to watch age-restricted videos on most third-party websites to its own site where they will be asked to sign in and prove they are over the age of 18.
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Mozilla's new browser extension will help fix terrible YouTube recommendations
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Mozilla is introducing RegretsReporter, a new browser extension which allows YouTube users to "donate" their recommendations in the name of assisting researchers better understand the video platform's algorithm. YouTube has long been criticized for its opaque recommendation system, which sometimes leads users down rabbit holes, giving "regrettable recommendations."
Through the browser extension, which is available for both Chrome and Firefox, researchers and outside experts will be able to study what type of content leads the video platform to suggest violent, racist, or conspiratorial content. Additionally, Mozilla wants to identify the patterns that trigger these recommendations and will make its findings public.
Ashley Boyd, Vice President of Advocacy at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post:
Users will be encouraged to report troubling recommendations they come across, in addition to describing the type of content that led to it. Boyd assured users that data collected will be linked to a randomly-generated user ID, which will minimize the risk of users being identified.
The extension isn't the first time Mozilla has called out YouTube's algorithm. Last year, it gave recommendations on changes YouTube should make.
YouTube announces its TikTok rival Shorts, launching in India first
by Rajesh Pandey
It was reported back in April that YouTube was working on its own TikTok rival called Shorts. Five months later, YouTube has finally announced its new "short-form video experience for creators and artists" who solely want to shoot content through their smartphone.
YouTube will be rolling out an early beta of Shorts with a bunch of creator tools for testing purposes in India. The company notes in its announcement that this is still an "early version of the product" but it is being released now so that it can take the necessary feedback and further improve it.
Videos in YouTube Shorts will be limited to 15 seconds or less in length. Some of the tools that will be available to creators while making Shorts videos include multi-segment camera that will allow them to stitch multiple clips together, record videos while using audio from YouTube's expansive audio library, speed controls, and a timer and countdown for easy hands-free recording.
To encourage creators to upload videos to Shorts, YouTube has also moved the create '+' icon to the bottom tab in Android. This change has also been made live in India for now, though YouTube will now expand it to iOS and other countries as well.
YouTube recently added a row to highlight short videos on its platform and to make navigating and discovering Shorts videos easier, YouTube will allow users to switch between videos by vertically swiping on them. YouTube also notes that it will continue improving Shorts and roll out new features to creators over the coming few weeks and months.