As you may know, YouTube, the popular video sharing site, has been owned by Google since 2006. For the last few years, anyone with a Gmail account has been able to sign into YouTube with his or her Google username and password. But YouTube's "look" and "feel" didn't change very much, except for a few updates to for those wanting to create "channels" (fancier sharing pages).
Well, last week, Google updated the user interface on YouTube to integrate more seamlessly with its "Google Plus" social networking site. Users don't need to necessarily have a Google Plus account to use YouTube, however. The interface between YouTube and Twitter, Facebook, and Orkut (whatever that is) is also much easier.
Instead of focusing on "finding friends," YouTube encourages you to "add channels," which is the same as "following" a page or group on Facebook. You'll receive notices of uploaded videos to whichever channels you have added (notice: you no longer "subscribe" to other users' content, you just "add" their channel). Of course if you don't have any friends, YouTube will find some for you - the suggestions are in the lower left of your home page. The suggesions are based on recent searches you have done on Google and channels you have previously subscribed to, among other factors.
The whole idea is pretty smart, and is likely to help users quickly find content of interest. I really like the new format, and find it extremely intuitive and user-friendly (one of Google's forte's). As with every other "smart" technology, privacy can be an issue. If you really don't want your video searching integrated with your web searches or your Facebook feed, you can simply use YouTube (or Google search, for that matter) without signing in.
Obviously, if you have more than one online ID, or if your computer is used by more than one person in your household, the channel suggestions might be more confusing than "smart." If you're signed in to Facebook under your "professional" account, and into YouTube under your "friends and family" profile, the potential for awkward mistakes and misundersandings exists if you try using the automatic sharing feature (your clients and customers might wonder why you're sharing cute kitten videos with them), so you 'll need to be vigilant about always signing out of each profile when you leave the site if this could be an issue for you.
Overall, though, I like the change. The sharing features have been availalbe for awhile, but now they're more obvious, and user-friendly. To learn more, go HERE and HERE, or check out the video above.