Google-owned popular video streaming platform YouTube on Monday announced that it will start testing a new Explore tab on iPhone that will allow users on the platform to discover related content from channels that they have not yet subscribed to. Explore is different from the Recommendations tab in a way that it is expected to broaden topics instead of showing just videos similar to the ones in browsing history and in the subscription list. The feature is currently being tested on just about 1 percent of the iPhone users with the YouTube app installed, the company announced in a video on its Creators Insider channel. It will most likely replace the Trending button, which will become a section within Explore.
"Explore is designed to help you to be exposed to different kinds of topics, videos, or channels that you might not otherwise encounter. But they are still personalised, they are still based on your viewing activity," said Tom Leung, a Director of Product Management, YouTube. For instance, he goes on to say, if users are watching videos about telescopes, the Explore tab might show videos about high-end cameras. Thus, it will aim to keep recommendations in the same domain, but avoid showing the videos about the exact same thing from different creators.
Despite the apparent disappearance of Trending from the bottom taskbar of the YouTube app, the Explore tab will retain a Trending shelf on top, as will it introduce a new 'Creator on the rise' shelf to promote up and coming channels on the platform, which produce content similar to your tastes. The company essentially aims to help budding creators grow their audience with visibility through the new Explore tab. The tab is also focusing on providing more variety to viewers, contrary to the Trending tab that offered rather irrelevant content, especially in a market like India.
"We hope it's going to be a win-win, but we are not sure yet, that's why the experiment is going to be run. But in the meantime, feel free to give us feedback... Let us know what you think and we're happy to give an update as well when the experiment has run its course," stated Leung. The experiment was also announced on the YouTube Help Forum, with instructions on how to send feedback.
In a blog post last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had announced five key priorities for creators in 2018, which include transparency and better communication. Within days of this announcement, in which she claimed that YouTube would make the best efforts to communicate feature testing, this development comes as a rare instance of the platform officially announcing a test. In most cases, YouTube has been known to start testing elements without first letting creators or viewers know about them.