Those mad tinkerers over at YouTube keep tinkering away, although the new features recently announced are actually pretty useful. The YouTube Blog announced some changes to their player that will be in effect in the next few weeks that give users the ability to look ahead in a video to find the part that they want to see, or give them a preview of what is to come, or find a spot where the video was previously stopped. By running your cursor over the timeline, a thumbnail is generated to show what you're about to see. For long videos, you can even scrub the timeline to get a series of thumbnails. Sweet!
YouTube's New Look Ahead Features
The most basic one will be that you will be able to place your cursor anywhere on the timeline and see a thumbnail of that part of the video, as seen here:
But there are even more dynamic look ahead features, and they can be seen right now on the free crowdsourced movie Life in a Day. One feature allows you to place your cursor over the timeline, and a bar representing 90 seconds pops up over the timeline. You can navigate that entire bar for thumbnails. Take a look:
And even better, if you scrub the timeline on Life in a Day, it will give you a series of thumbnails so you can have a wide variety to choose from. Here's how it looks:
So overall, these are some pretty useful features, and it looks like YouTube thought a lot about the different kinds of searching you might want to attempt.
If you'd like to try out the new features, they are on select videos right now. I was able to do it on Life in a Day and the Star Wars Uncut crowdsourced film. The new features aren't on most videos right now, but it appears to be something that will be a normal, everyday feature very soon.
Here it is on an embedded video: