YouTube features to look out for in 2021

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Two billion people log into YouTube every month. Two billion. That is a lot of content being consumed and the company’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, has highlighted some of the improvements that the platform is looking at implementing this year.

Some of the improvements, such as those for YouTube TV, aren’t relevant to our South African readers so we’ll be skimming over those in favour of relevant features.

Something else to keep in mind is that these feature updates don’t all have timelines. Where Mohan gives an idea we will relay that information .

With that in mind let’s start with YouTube Music.

While YouTube Music has improved in leaps and bounds since its launch, there is still some road to walk. The firm says it continues to launch more personalised mixes, “centered around the everyday activities and moods enjoyed with music”. However, finding playlists created by others isn’t as easy as finding YouTube’s recommendations.

“Music fans who love creating their own playlists will have even more features at hand, and we’ll also make user-created playlists more discoverable to others on the platform,” writes Mohan.

YouTube Kids is getting additional features for parents who want to make sure their children aren’t watching content that isn’t suitable for kids.

“There are now over 35 million weekly viewers across more than 80 countries who use YouTube Kids, engaging in content like fun family projects through Art for Kids Hub or helpful lessons about nutrition by Omari Goes Wild. This year, we’ll also offer new parental tools, including a highly-requested option that lets parents add specific videos and channels from the main YouTube platform to their children’s viewing choices on YouTube Kids,” writes Mohan.

This could be good news for educational YouTube channels which don’t make content specifically for children, but whose content may be great for kids to see. Channels such as Veritasium, Smarter Every Day, Standup Maths and Mark Rober come to mind.

For content creators who prefer the likes of TikTok, YouTube Shorts is currently being beta tested in the US following a similar test in India.

“Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally. In the coming weeks, we’ll begin expanding the beta to the US, unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts,” says Mohan.

There’s no work on whether the feature will be tested with a larger, more global audience just yet.

The business of YouTube

Many creators on YouTube have made making videos for the platform their career.

The trouble is that their income depends largely on advertising revenue and YouTube will demonetise videos for anything from swearing to violence no matter how small or big the infraction is.

“Inspired by the success of Super Chat and Super Stickers for livestreams, we’ve been testing a new applause feature that allows fans to show support for their favorite YouTube channels. This feature unlocks new monetization opportunities for creators’ uploads, and we’re looking forward to launching this more broadly to creators this year,” writes Mohan.

In addition to this applause feature (which looks interesting) YouTube is also beta testing an integrated shopping experience.

This could be good news for creators who sell their own merchandise or who want to recommend products to viewers. How successful this ecommerce solution will be depends largely on how well it’s implemented.

This feature is set to arrive in 2021 so keep an eye out for it.

There are more improvements to come for YouTube and Mohan has committed to providing continuous updates about plans to improve how we make and watch videos on the platform.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.