YouTube has unveiled a new version of their mobile site, and the changes are pretty significant. The new mobile site is faster, more touch-friendly, more HTML5-friendly, and it has a lot of new features.
YouTube claims to serve 100 million video playbacks per day to mobile devices, which is an alarmingly high number. I can't quite get my head around that. While I have used a smart phone to occasionally watch video for nearly a year now, I'm still seeing relatively few people out and about using mobile phones to watch videos. That's hardly a scientific representation, but it's still surprising to hear how many mobile views they're dishing out per day. It speaks to how rapidly mobile video is growing, and YouTube's mobile site has long been overdue for an upgrade.
So what's new with the new YouTube mobile site? I'm glad you asked.
It's wicked fast. The new m.youtube.com is noticeably faster than the previous version. If you have even a little experience with the old mobile YouTube (or the YouTube app for the iPhone), the difference will be obvious.
2. It's got more touch-screen functions
You can do more with a touch screen phone due to the increase in "touch-friendly elements" on this new mobile site, which is important since touch screens are rapidly becoming the dominant interface.
The new mobile YouTube also adds a few more HTML5 features, which is interesting and welcome.
4. Better quality video
Maybe it's just me, but it feels like we've taken a step up in overall video quality. In addition to the aforementioned speed increase, the picture and playback seem improved as well.
Here's a video YouTube made to show off the changes and features in the new mobile site:
Now, I could make this entire story about the growing Google/Apple feud. And there are plenty of reasons to see this move as another attack in the chess game between the two companies. For instance, it's pretty hard to miss the fact that their commercial begins with someone who is using an iPhone to visit the new mobile YouTube. And that user bypasses the standard YouTube App and goes straight to the browser. The ad then switches to someone with a Nexus One for a while, and then later back to an iPhone. And so on. Come to think of it, the entire commercial feels more like an Apple spot than one from Google, and I'm quite sure that's no accident.
But I honestly think that in this case, the bigger story is that YouTube has greatly enhanced the mobile browsing experience for their users. Apple and Google will continue to throw little barbs at each other from time to time, but it's doubtful that either will lose sight of the real goal: a quality user experience. The day is fast approaching when YouTube will give its mobile browser more attention than its standard version. But mobile browsing can't take over as the predominant method unless the experience is going to keep up with user demands. That's why upgrades like this are so important and exciting.