Seems like if you have an app, adding a messaging feature is now just a matter of course. How else to explain YouTube’s latest feature — an in-app messenger that supports sharing of videos in 1-on-1 or group chats. Google had been testing the feature in a handful of markets around the world, and is now ready to unleash it worldwide.
The YouTube messaging feature is one of many for Google. They released Allo and Duo, dedicated text and video chat apps, last year. They’ve also continued development of Google Hangouts, which they’re now trying to convert into a more business-oriented chat app. That’s not counting the loads of messaging apps Google has tried and terminated in the past, like Google Wave.
The new messaging feature will be built into the mobile YouTube app. The idea is that you’ll be able to use the messenger to share videos and discuss them with friends without leaving the app — the ‘without leaving the app’ part is what seems to be on the mind of all developers large and small these days. Google is hoping in-app chatting will keep people locked into the app so they can share and watch more videos.
Sounds sweet for Google, but it seems to be a little more cumbersome for users at the outset. You’ll be forced to, yet again, try to convince people to join you on a new platform. You’ll need to add people as YouTube contacts to use the sharing and chat feature with them, and that’ll require you to pester them with texts asking them to join up. Not fun!
It’s hard to say exactly who this is for. The heaviest YouTube users, the streamers and vloggers of the world, don’t seem to benefit that much — they can already chat live with their followers during streams, and they’d need far more than 30 people for a group chat, which is the current limit. They could use it as a channel for followers to reach them directly, but it seems like that would be overwhelming for a lot of power users.
Everyone else can share YouTube videos easily enough on other messenger apps — ones their friends already use. It’s not clear why a significant number of users would make the jump to another messaging service just to share YouTube videos, but we’ll know if there’s good reason soon enough — the feature is rolling out to both iOS and Android apps as of today.