YouTube Is Getting a Facelift

YouTube has recently unveiled the new design of their desktop website to enhance the user experience. With 4 major changes and more on the way, YouTube is certainly doing all they can to keep users on the platform. Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments on the video site.

What's Different?

1) Clean Design – YouTube has simplified the design for a much cleaner look. There is noticeably more blank space, which makes the interface easier to navigate and is a sleeker, more modern look.

New YouTube Design 2017
I tested out the new design on my channel and I love the new look!
2) Endless Timeline – YouTube has finally caught up with all the other social platforms and introduced endless scrolling on the timeline, which means that you can discover new content more easily.

3) Dark Theme – YouTube is known for being white and red, however, a black version has been introduced to reduce strain on viewers’ eyes. In addition to reducing glare, the Dark Theme also lets you see true colours of the videos you watch. This is certain to be a favourite for many. To find out how to activate Dark Mode, click here.

Polymer Dark Theme
The YouTube interface using the Dark Theme. Source: The Verge
4) Faster Framework – The new framework, Polymer, was developed by Google and is an open-source JavaScript library for building web applications using web components. By using this, the new site has been designed for development optimisation, meaning that we can expect a lot more features being added a whole lot quicker.

“This is only the beginning — you can look forward to more powerful new features coming soon.” – Brian Marquardt (Product Lead at YouTube)

How Do I Get The New Design?

A major consideration for YouTube has consistently been to gain insights from its users and so they’re relying on feedback from the YouTube community before the new design is implemented across the board.

Although not available to everyone just yet, select groups of people from all parts of the world have been given a chance to preview the upcoming change. But if you’re just dying to try it out yourself, you can preview the new and improved site here.

YouTube is constantly innovating the platform with multiple new features being introduced in the last few months – arguably, the most notable additions being the Community Tab (September 2016) and YouTube Messenger (January 2017). The golden thread tying these developments together is the user experience, which very clearly demonstrates the core purpose of keeping users on YouTube for longer. With the implementation of the new framework, it will be interesting to see what changes the developers have in store for the near future, and whether or not it will lead to a significant change in the social media landscape.

References & Additional Reading

YouTube TV Is Officially Here!

The wait is over! YouTube has officially launched its streaming service, YouTube TV, which allows users to stream and record live TV shows.

YouTube TV shows
YouTube TV allows viewers to watch a range of networks (50 channels) without the need for a cable

Here's What You Need to Know About YouTube TV

  • An impressive number of the top US networks are available for viewing, including Fox, E!, The CW, NBC, YouTube Red Originals and more
  • The main focus is so that users can watch TV wirelessly from anywhere. However, sign in from home at least once every 3 months is required to keep the account active
  • A household can have up to 6 separate accounts, which is particularly useful when recommended shows are tailored to your interests
  • Viewers can watch shows live or record to the cloud with no storage limits
  • YouTube TV is mainly a mobile app however, you can access the platform via mobile (Android and iOS), TV (Android and Chromecast) or computer (Chrome being the recommendation, obviously)
  • As with other streaming services, YouTube TV has commercials, with the majority of ad revenue going to the networks
  • Users can sign-up for a 1-month free trial
  • The service costs $35 dollars per month
  • The service is currently only available in select US cities (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia & San Francisco Bay Area, with more on the way)

Traditional television viewing is undoubtedly changing and social networks are quickly coming to the party as well. In February, Facebook also announced they will be launching a TV app soon, but have not given any indication of exactly when. The number of available TV streaming services in rapidly increasing, so it will be interesting to see who else will enter the market and how they differentiate themselves from competitors. So, what are your thoughts – is traditional TV dead?

You can find out more about YouTube TV by visiting their website or click on any of the links below for a more objective opinion on the service.

References and Additional Reading

 

Introducing YouTube’s New Messaging Feature

Social platforms are constantly looking for ways to add new features that keep them relevant. YouTube is no exception and has aggressively been testing and adding new features to enhance the popularity of the platform. Their latest addition is sure to be a hit.

Google-owned YouTube has just released a new messaging feature that allows mobile users to message each other within the app. Users are now able to share videos with other people in their network, and to have private conversations about these videos without having to leave the platform. This is much less cumbersome than having to copy a link and share it via other social networks.

The new in-app feature has been tested since mid-2016 and is currently only available to users based in Canada. Although the addition will be made available globally, according to Google, Canadians share 15% more than users anywhere else in the world, which makes them the perfect guinea pigs for the initial implementation. There has been no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to other users, but for now, if you have friends and family in Canada, ask them to add you to a conversation using your Google account and you can try it out before other regions.

I think this is a brilliant idea for YouTube and it will no doubt boost engagement on the platform. This is quite clearly a key objective for YouTube, especially considering the addition of the community tab. This isn’t surprising with the popularity of video content increasing. I suspect this isn’t the last innovative feature for the platform we’ll see this year. What do you think?

References & Additional Reading

The Best Mashups that Perfectly Sum Up 2016

I love mash-ups. Always have, always will. There are several artists and DJS who have made a name for themselves by having an ear for perfectly remixing and mashing-up popular songs, which often go viral. Remember Norwegian Recycling?

Well, with the end of the year, there have been numerous posts claiming to be the best mash-up of the year. Being the music lover that I am, I’ve listened to a few and chosen my top 5 mash-ups of 2016 and ranked them from most epic.

1) AnDy Wu MUSIC LAND

2) T10MO

3) DJ Earworm

4) Yabinci Müzikler

5) SuperScreamRock 2

What do you think? Did I miss any I should hear? Let me know.

 

Cell C #BreakTheNet Sparks Mixed Reactions

Hot Topic of the Week

Break The Net is the new digital reality show looking for the next South African YouTube sensation. Finalists stand the chance to win R250 000 and a trip to Hollywood. Cell C recently announced the Top 30 Finalists in the competition and while the news didn’t quite break the net, the first episode certainly sparked conversation amongst the community.

On 23 October, Cell C released the first of the #BreakTheNet weekly episodes and encouraged followers to tune in to see who the lucky contestants were, as well as their first challenge. Posts by the brand on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter received a predominantly positive reaction, mainly in the form of likes. Others took the time to share words of encouragement and congratulate the winners. The finalists were also vocal about their excitement about the challenges ahead.

Although the majority of individuals responded positively, others were less impressed with the finalists who were selected. 102 individuals of the YouTube community voiced their disapproval of the outcome. Common themes in the negative conversation were finalists not being deserving of being selected, videos lacking originality, and ‘more worthy’ individuals not making it through.

Cell C BTN Episode 1 Response
The above graphic provides a snapshot of the reaction to the first #BreakTheNet episode of the Cell C reality series.

While it’s okay to voice your opinion, it’s important to understand the difference between sharing your point of view and being nasty. What is disappointing is that several of commenters who complained were YouTubers who had entered the competition themselves and not made it through. This is poor sportsmanship. Why detract from someone’s happiness simply because you, or someone you support, did not make the cut?

There are few opportunities for YouTubers in South Africa to make a name for themselves. We should be celebrating the wins of our peers instead of tearing each other down out of spite and jealousy. Whether you agree or disagree with an outcome, emotional intelligence is key to reacting in a way that communicates your point without it being at the expense of others. Interrogating why you feel it’s necessary to comment and what you hope to achieve through adding your opinion is another worthwhile consideration. I urge you to think twice before you weigh in with negativity and call out those who are discouraging any of the winners. I also hope you will take a moment to share your support for the finalists. It is a great achievement that they have been chosen and I look forward to seeing how they perform each challenge.

Watch the show on the Cell C Reality App on Sunday nights at 7pm, and find out who could be the next SuzelleDIY or Ofentse Mwase.

Miranda Sings is Officially on Netflix in Haters Back Off!

Singer, dancer, actor, model and magician Miranda Sings is no longer only creating videos on YouTube, but has just released an original Netflix series called Haters Back Off!

Haters Back Off is a television comedy series based on the fictional character created by Colleen Ballinger in 2008, Miranda Sings. Miranda is a talentless, egotistical and delusional character who shares her outrageous outlook on the world through her ridiculously funny YouTube videos. With over 7 million subscribers, it’s no wonder Netflix took the opportunity to adapt it into a series.

While most of Miranda’s videos are confined to her room, the series lets viewers see more of her world and the influences that have led to who she is. Not only that but fans were finally introduced to Miranda’s mom and inappropriate uncle who were often referred to on YouTube, but never seen. The show also revealed that Miranda has a sister, Emily, who is arguably the only normal person in the family.

The show focuses on Miranda’s rise to fame in a quirky and endearing way. While Miranda is often rude and absurd, the series highlights a more sincere side to Miranda, which was surprising. While audiences can still laugh at how ludicrous Miranda and her oddball family are, the narrative has a lot of heart, which makes the show quite charming.

Although Ballinger is not the only YouTuber to appear on TV, having a spinoff of a YouTube channel is certainly an achievement. She has featured in numerous publications since the series debuted on 14 October, including an appearance on Jimmy Fallon where watchers were treated to seeing her transition into Miranda right before their eyes.

Miranda SingsFrom the moment I heard Miranda Sings was getting her own show I was apprehensive. But after watching Haters Back Off and seeing how the integrity of who Miranda is has been kept in tact, while still adding a new dimension, I was immensely impressed with the translation and take my hat off to Colleen for making the risky move.

Don’t worry, Miranda won’t be leaving YouTube anytime soon and plans to continue her channel for as long as she can. Colleen, and Miranda, have been promoting the show on YouTube and have been giving fans a chance to see behind the scenes footage and get to know a bit more about the making of the series. What’s particularly clever is that Miranda is promoting the show as if it were a part of her day to day life, so be sure to subscribe to her channel to see her hilarious perspective.

All 8 episodes of season 1 are available on Netflix with no word as to whether or not there will be a second season, but for now, we’ll have to take what we can get.

For more information on the series, you can visit any of the links below:

 

Internet Censorship Restricts Video Uploads in SA

The South African government has approved the submission of the Films and Publications (FPB) Amendment Bill, which restricts South Africans from uploading videos to online channels, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, unless they have registered as a distributor and have paid a registration fee.

A cabinet statement released mid-August 2016 announced that the Films and Publications Act of 1996 will be adapted as technology has advanced. The Internet Censorship Bill will give the government the right to monitor and censor content on the internet. The bill applies not only to media, companies and organisations but to all South African entities, including members of the public. Although initially started to restrict child pornography and revenge porn, broad terminology and vague definitions allow for the government to tap into any and all internet activity. This means that any video content contributor on any social media platform will be tracked (name, address, and age) and all distributors will need to register with the FPB.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been against the bill since talk of the amendment was brought to light, and has vocalised their concerns of freedom of expression on the internet being curtailed, which is unconstitutional. They have also commented on the feasibility of enforcing such a bill. “This means every single person with a social media account in South Africa would have to register with the Film and Publication Board as a distributor and pay the requisite fee for pre-classification. This is quite clearly unworkable”, said DA spokesperson on communication, Phumzile van Damme. Click on the image below to sign the DA petition to fight against internet monitoring.

DA Internet Censorship Petition
Petition to throw out the internet monitoring bill.

The Internet Censorship Bill will be deliberated today (20 September 2016), and so we as South Africans await to hear the outcome.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments section below. Is there more we could do as South Africans to fight against this bill?

Sources

What Is YouTube Community?

Google is testing a new feature on YouTube called Community, which hopes to create a more ‘social’ network by encouraging more engagement without users having to leave the platform.

Although I was apprehensive at first about YouTube introducing Community, after the launch on 13 September 2016, I must admit I’m quite excited to see how the addition will change the platform.

VSauce Community Page
So far the new feature has been well received by the community as YouTubers have shared a number of posts, which have received an influx of engagement.

Although not available to the general public just yet, select YouTubers such as Vsauce3, AspSCIENCE, Peter Hollens, Sam Tsui, The Game Theorists, The Key of Awesome, Threadbanger, The Kloons, John & Hank Green, Karmin, Rosianna Halse Rojas and Lilly Singh have been given the opportunity to test the new Community tab, which is accessible to anyone who visits their channels.

What Is It?

Welcome to our Community Tab
I was first made aware that Community had launched after I received a notification on my phone informing me that AsapSCIENCE had their Community Tab.

Community is a new feature that allows YouTube to be more than just a video sharing platform. A new tab will be added to a channel where visitors can access a YouTuber’s feed and engage with them in a new way. In an attempt to make YouTube more social, this addition hopes to encourage feedback and interaction between uploaders and their audience. The launch of G+ in 2011 was Google’s first attempt at creating a viable social network to rival Facebook, which was an expensive failure for the brand. With the introduction of Community, Google hopes to make the user experience more seamless and allow for a more social community.

What this means for YouTubers is that YouTubers will now have the ability to upload photos, videos, gifs and share text post with their audience.

What this means for viewers is that you can engage with your favourite vlogger without leaving their channel. Fans can like and comment on posts, as well as receive notifications when a channel publishes a new update to the tab.

Community is in BETA phase at the moment, however, is expected to roll out in the next few months. So far, the response seems to be positive, however, YouTube will be monitoring the public’s response to add new features and functionality.

I’m excited to see how Community will add to the YouTube experience as a subscriber and as a vlogger, and whether or not it will impact any of the other social media platforms. My prediction is that Facebook and Twitter will be used by YouTubers as more of a marketing tool, and their Community feed will be used to connect with their audience on a more personal level. It’s certainly an interesting new venture and I’m sure we’ll all be watching this space.

Check out the Community tabs available on the above mentioned YouTuber’s channels and let me know your thoughts.

Being a Vlogger in South Africa

Being a vlogger on YouTube (or anywhere for that matter) isn’t easy. At first, it may seem like a very daunting task; but if you jump in with both feet, you won’t regret it. The truth is that it’s really easy to be a vlogger. If you put in the time and effort to make really awesome videos, then you’re sure to see results. But most of all, have fun and do it for your own reasons.

The guys over at Tech Report on eNCA (DStv 403) asked me a few questions on what it’s like to be a South African vlogger on YouTube. Here are my answers, which I hope inspire you to take the plunge.

Tech Report is an awesome weekly tech-news TV show on eNCA channel 403 on DStv 403. If you don’t watch it, you should.

Twitter: @eNCAnews
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eNCAnews

This isn’t meant to be YouTube tutorial, but I realise that many people are looking to start their own channels. If you’d like me to make a video showing you in a few easy steps how to make videos from beginning to end, please let me know in the comments section below.