Friday, 6 July 2007

Auto-next for YouTube

After seeing the auto-countdown 'Right' and 'Left' arrows that appear when a video ends in YouTube the following occured to me:

Wouldn't it be neat if YouTube could track what kind of videos you watch, compare your selections with its own list of popular videos and select the next video on its own? Each video could have a 'Skip' and a 'I like this' button appear in the controls, just like the one currently appearing in the player.

You'd still have control over what gets played. When a video ends, you could select from the options provided, just like you do now. The new bit would be a timer. When the timer expires the most popular video from those presented gets loaded automatically. That could even be applied in the AppleTV's and the iPhone's version of YouTube as well.

The algorithm behind something like that is simple as shown by other 'behaviour-tracking' services like, Pandora radio and Reddit. If you are not logged in you can skip the 'tracking' part altogether and just auto-load the next most popular video in line.

A point against this could be that contrary to and Pandora's case, watching videos is not a background task like listening to music (Wasn't something similar said as an 'evidence' on why there was no point behind the iPod's ability to play videos? :-) ). I think this does not hold true. From my own and my friends' experiences, YouTube can be addictive. Like a Greek ad for chips said, 'It's impossible to have only one'. Why not try to automate the selection then?

I think that an automation like that would be usefull, specifically in 'dedicated' YouTube applications like the AppleTV and the iPhone. You'd log in, manually select the first video you want to watch and then let it play on its own. Imagine this scenario with the AppleTV, it's almost like watching your own, personal TV program for free.

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