SAN BRUNO, Calif.-Soon you may be clicking the remote from your most comfortable chair in order to view YouTube videos in high quality on a big TV screen.
YouTube on the evening of June 2 launched its newest service, YouTube XL, as part of its strategy to move its content from the computer screen into the social heartland of its users: the living room.
The new feature was launched here in the wake of the introduction of Hulu’s Hulu Desktop on May 28. YouTube XL represents a major enhancement to an earlier launch, the YouTube for TV beta, that Google released in January.
Kuan Yong, product manager of YouTube XL, told eWEEK that nothing about YouTube itself has changed-except for the framework that holds all that content.
“YouTube TV, previewed in January, was really the first iteration of this Website, and we’ve made huge improvements [since then] to the user experience,” Yong said.
“This is really the same YouTube you’ve come to know and love, but it’s designed now for the large screen.
“So think of YouTube, but with a different UI, or user experience. It’s all in the browser. All you need to do is go to YouTube.com/XL, and there it is.”
There is no software or plug-in to download and install. You simply log in to YouTube from any browser and start using the XL feature, which enlarges the video image to fit the size of the screen you’re using.
YouTube XL runs on any Flash-enabled browser and sports an easy-to-read interface devoid of ads that also leaves out comments and suggested videos.
It also has a continuous play feature, in which a user can line up a series of videos and let them play one after the other in a loop-an interesting entertainment idea for use at a party or other social gathering.
YouTube’s XL development team has worked “for the last several quarters” on getting XL to run smoothly on most devices-more than 140 at last count, Yong said.
“It looks really good, especially in full-screen mode,” Yong said.It’s All About the Browser
Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the Google I/O conference May 27 to 28 was clear about the company’s strategy going forward: It’s all about the browser.
“He’s absolutely right: The Web really is a great distribution channel [through which] to get content out to any device,” Yong said.
If Google had its way, of course, users would open YouTube XL in the Google Chrome browser and use an Android telephone as a remote control. Of course, the browsers (XL runs on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and others in addition to Chrome) and phones are interchangeable.
In a demonstration June 2 at the YouTube headquarters, Yong used an application downloaded from Android Marketplace to his Android phone to control the laptop on which XL was running. “I can use the keyboard on the phone and the touch-screen as a track pad to control the computer,” Yong said.
Yong said he believes that XL could eventually become a “default Web-to-TV app, because developing custom applications for individual manufacturers is not scalable.”