Breaking Language Barriers, Hashtag Pages, and Texts in Shorts - YouTube Updates Its Community On What's To Come

A recent video by Creator Insider, an informal channel made by the developers behind YouTube, delved into some major changes that are coming to the video streaming giant. A few strides in terms of accessibility, a new feature to be added to the app, and some updates in an old feature. There's a lot of content to break down, so let's get down to business.

Kicking us off with an update that this author is personally impressed by, YouTube's search algorithm is looking to become more accessible for non-English speakers, especially those looking to learn new skills on the site. Say your grandmother wants to learn how to cook a particular recipe. Or maybe she's looking to get into arts and crafts. However, a complete lack of understanding the English language is barring her from using YouTube effectively. Now, she can search up what she wants in her own language, and results from popular videos will show up with the titles translated into said language. Furthermore upon clicking the video, closed captions will immediately start translating the video's language into your grandmother's tongue.

Now, this feature was labelled as "experimental" in the Insider video, and rightfully so. Other than the fact that this feature currently only caters to 3 languages (Arabic, Portuguese, and Italian), automatic closed captions have always presented mixed results in languages the AI isn't familiar with, as I'm sure most of this article's Urdu-speaking audience can attest to. Regardless, it's a firm step in the right direction towards truly inviting multiculturalism to YouTube. Its community is made up of billions of people across the globe, and its about time the focus was pulled off of English to focus on everyone else. The Insider video also added a particular emphasis on the phrase "Learning Content" as opposed to simply content, so whether or not these changes will apply themselves to more than just tutorials and instructional videos is yet to be seen.

The second major update pertains to hashtags in the YouTube app. When one encounters a hashtag and taps on it, they're usually led to a simplistic scroll-down page with relevant videos, seemingly with no particular rhyme or reason short of them being popular. The Insider video explains that now, hashtags will link to an entirely new interface, built to be more sophisticated. While this feature has yet to be implemented, photos from the video show some significant changes. Instead of videos appearing one at a time as one scrolls down, they will be featured 2 in a column, properly utilizing the space a phone screen offers. The landing page will also offer the number of videos pertaining to this hashtag to communicate how popular it is. Finally, options for "Top" and "Recent" videos will also be offered, allowing relevant content to be properly arranged and filtered for consumers.

The final major update touched on by the video pertains to YouTube Shorts. Shorts is a feature that enables users to make quick, snappy 60 second YouTube videos on the go with nothing more than your phone. Shorts was released in the September of 2020, and with TikTok's future in the USA as well as the rest of the world uncertain, YouTube obviously wants to monopolize on their challenge to the social media service as much as they can. The feature works as such: upon opening the YouTube mobile app and clicking on the plus icon at the bottom of the screen, a list of options will present itself. Simply tap on the line that says "Create A Short" and get to work. Before delving any further, however, this author would like to clarify that Shorts is currently out for beta testing only, and therefore not all phones have what is referred to as the "Shorts camera".

The new update is looking to add text overlays to the Shorts camera, giving users more to do with the 60 second clips they film. While no visual cues as to how this will look have been offered, Creator Insider claims that this will functionally look very similar to how YouTube stories work. This author would also like to mention that a specific focus on text overlays, warranting their own update, is further indicative of how YouTube wishes to outshine TikTok as the new home of short-feature viral videos. However, as stated before, Shorts is only out for beta and still has a long way to go. Not to mention the fact that no matter the slippery slope TikTok stands on with the international community, it has yet to slip over and fall. The YouTube Help center encourages content creators to use the hashtag #Shorts as much as possible in order to gauge the feature's success. It also makes a point of mentioning that the beta is available for all creators across India (a country where TikTok is banned).

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