YouTube Leanback is a new interface for YouTube, intended to be used on Google TV, while the user "leans back" on their couch. Cute.
Here's a screenshot they showed off:
Lean Back will be the same YouTube you know and love in terms of content and basic functionality—but an entirely new interface that promises to be more intuitive, fluid, and customizable. The system will create personalized feeds based on users' interests.
This actually makes great sense. You can't navigate the web with a remote control, at least not in the same way you're used to. Creating a new interface for YouTube that blends with remote control functions and the altered real estate a television offers is a great way to ensure that people are willing and able to dive into what the YouTube experience might be on a TV.
Judging from the screenshot, there will be some quick-jump categories at the bottom for things like "My Feed," "My Rentals," "Comedy," and more. It's interesting to see the Rentals option so prominently displayed. Video rentals by YouTube actually make more sense in this proposed environment than they do on the web-only version anyway. People rent movies to sit on their couch and watch with family and friends. The television is already an ingrained part of that experience. Heck, maybe YouTube never intended for Rentals to be successful for PC users—it's possible their intention all along was to integrate it into something like Google TV.
There is also going to be a Lean Back version for the website. And while there are precious few details about how they expect users to interact with it online (as opposed to the Google TV version), a website version of Lean Back means there's more to this new interface than just using a remote control. It means they think they've found a way for their service to be even more useful and enjoyable for users. Which is kind of awesome.
Users will reportedly be able to fully customize their YouTube experience online and then port that "feed" over to their television. It's unclear if that means Lean Back will work with any Internet-ready TV or just those equipped with the Google TV software, but I'm guessing the latter.
In a way, all this is overdue. YouTube is pretty decent at suggesting new videos for me based on my previous behavior, but the customization of the site's content based around my proactive decisions and choices is something that I've wished for in the past… a way to filter out what is, to me, just noise and focus in on the content I'm actively seeking.
I'm looking forward to seeing the beta rollout of the online YouTube Lean Back—expected inside of a month. If the screenshot is any indication, it's going to be a wildly different experience. We can also expect a lot more information about Lean Back to come out over the coming weeks.