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YouTube Mobile Gets Makeover

A revised version of YouTube's mobile Web site simplifies on-the-go video viewing.

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YouTube on Wednesday introduced a new version of its mobile Web site that blurs the boundaries between native mobile apps and Web apps.

When YouTube was made available on mobile devices in 2007, it offered only about 1,000 videos, explained YouTube product manager Andrey Doronichev, in a blog post. It was far more limited.

These days, mobile hardware and mobile browsers are much more powerful. The new YouTube mobile site features an improved interface that's better suited to touch-based interaction.

That's perhaps for the best, given that YouTube Mobile now sees 100 million video playbacks per day, about as much as delivered to computer users in 2006.

YouTube Moble now includes search query suggestions and other features that desktop computer users have come to expect on the YouTube Web site, such as the ability to create playlists, to mark videos as favorites, and to express social sentiment such as "like" and "unlike."

And, Doronichev claims, "It's really fast."

YouTube's mobile site, of course, isn't just for the iPhone. It works on Android devices like the Nexus One, as can be seen from the video YouTube released to promote the site.

But the video shows that Web apps still aren't quite as accessible on the iPhone as native apps: It illustrates how an iPhone user can use the Add to Home Screen menu command to give YouTube's Web site a native app-like presence in the form of a dedicated icon.

Such bookmarking may seem trivial but it's critical for encouraging use of a Web site. It's far easier to navigate to a Web site by touching the icon than it is to typed a URL into a phone's Web browser.

The revised YouTube mobile site is offered only in English at the moment; other languages will be made available in a few months.

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