YouTube has announced that it is now rolling out its in-app direct messaging feature worldwide. This allows users to share videos and chat without leaving the YouTube app for Android and iOS devices.
Before this update was rolled out, users would have to send YouTube videos to friends by forwarding links to other messaging apps. Copying and pasting links can be quite tedious at times, and YouTube appears to be addressing that problem with this new set of features.
“Starting today, you can share videos with your friends and family directly on YouTube,” the company said on its blog yesterday. “Not only can you share and receive videos in the app, you can also chat about them right on YouTube, reply with another video, invite others to the conversation, and more. We think it’ll make sharing easier, faster and more fun on your phone.”
To be clear, this new feature is only available on the iOS and Android YouTube apps and can’t be accessed on the desktop site.
Sending a direct message is the same as sharing videos. Users will only have to tap on the “Share” button below a video. This will bring up list of suggested contacts to share the video with. Contacts that appear on this list are people that the user has recently chatted with.
Google says that some suggested contacts may also be people that a user has interacted with on YouTube or other Google services. For example, a friend might be part of the list of suggested contacts if a user has already chatted with them on Hangouts or have exchanged emails through Gmail. There’s also the “add contacts” button, which lets the app access the user’s phone book.
Users will be able to chat and share videos with friends right inside the YouTube app.
Unfortunately, the YouTube app doesn’t actually know whether or not a user’s contact on the phone book is using YouTube with a signed-in account. However, there is an option to send an invitation via SMS text message to “add me as a contact on YouTube.”
This is currently the challenge that YouTube is facing with this new feature, as pointed out by Engadget. There’s no guarantee that all of the user’s friends are signed in to YouTube. It would be easier for some to just simply share videos through Facebook Messenger or Apple’s iMessage.
Interestingly, users will not only be able to send a video to one person, but also to several people to initiate a group chat. A YouTube group chat can support up to 30 people. Users also have the option to include a message alongside the video by simply typing on the text box beneath the suggested contacts list. Existing conversations on YouTube can be accessed in a new tab labeled as “Shared.”
YouTube’s goal here appears to be engaging more users with the YouTube app while also making sure that they’re watching more videos. Having a built-in chat feature would also mean that YouTube is yet another messaging service that could challenge other platforms.
The YouTube app's messaging/video sharing feature has been in testing since last year. The beta version of this was then rolled out earlier this year in January, but it was only made available to users in Canada at the time, according to Digital Trends.
“We’ve been experimenting with a better way to share videos on YouTube since last year,” YouTube said. “Thanks to all your feedback, we made some improvements and are now ready to roll out this new sharing feature to all users globally.”
Users can now chat and share videos inside the YouTube app.