One of the ways that major websites test possible new layouts and features is through random select live testing--where only a handful of users are shown the new look while the rest of the public sees the familiar one. And I think that may be going on over at YouTube. It appears that the video portal is playing around a little bit with their player interface, editing functionality (for editing video information), and more...
New YouTube Player End Screen
It used to look like this:
However, now… when a video finishes playing it looks like this:
At least… it does for some videos. I played around with it for a while, trying various other videos, and many of them gave me the old, standard look. Is this some kind of select testing? Slow rollout? I have no idea. But I know it looks slick and I like it and I wish I knew more about what it was and why I was seeing it.
I started with a video called GrindaDrap—which is a horrific thing to behold, actually, because it's a bunch of boats driving whales to shore to be slaughtered, and yet it was one of the spotlight videos of Citizen Tube on the home page, so that's how I came to view it. And when it's over, it gives me this fancy new finishing screen on both Explorer and Firefox.
So I went back out and clicked other videos from the same spotlight row—the "Bus in Seine" and "Bear steals car and trashes it”—both gave me the usual finishing screen instead of this new thing. Bummer.
Without any information on why it's showing up—and showing up so randomly—I'm left to simply discuss it.
My overwhelming thought is that I like it. There are now three buttons on the left: Replay, Like, & Share. I now also get five suggestions—one long horizontal box at the top right and four smaller squares along the bottom row—all of them black now, instead of red, although all the buttons turn red when you hover over them.
They also have a little "Up Next" verbiage there, which is interesting because it subconsciously suggests I'm watching one of a string of videos. Some users are probably going to click immediately just because they think there's a sequel or something.
YouTube Ajax In-Line Video Details Editing
Last night when I was editing a video for today, I noticed that there is a new quick edit screen on all videos when logged in. It appears to leverage AJAX in order to allow the owner to make quick changes to the status, title, description, and tags.
YouTube Video Suggestions Slider -"Playlist Bar"
In my screenshot, the four thumbnails correspond directly to the four videos I saw on the home page under Citizen Tube's spotlight section. But I can also click on the word Spotlight, and choose to "clear all videos from your queue," "show your queue," or "show spotlight.”
I chose "show your queue," and got a message saying that I didn't have items in my queue, but I could click the plus sign on the upcoming videos' thumbnails. So I did. i hovered over a video in the suggestions column and a plus sign appeared over it. I clicked, and the thumbnail instantly appeared down in that grey bar in my Queue. Sweet!
There are also video control buttons at the top left edge of the pop-up, which will play the video you're currently on, or skip to the next one in the queue. Over on the right, you have some autoplay and shuffle settings as well.
This is very reminiscent of YouTube Leanback, and I'd be surprised if the two aren't related in some way. In fact, I'm pretty sure that what I'm looking at is some live testing of YouTube's possible implementation of the Leanback experience to the general YouTube interface. A quick search revealed a comment on a YouTube help forum that suggests it might be called the Playlist Bar, and might have been in testing for a couple weeks (and that users, as usual, hate it).
Either way, it's pretty slick. I'm pretty impressed by how many changes YouTube has been making this year, including the complete overhaul of the player interface. It shows they're not content to get rusty… that they have a drive to improve. They want content creators to get more views and viewers to more easily find the videos they want to see… and the new looks I'm seeing today in this testing would seem likely to accomplish both goals.