YouTube today releases its new video chapter feature for all users on desktops, phones and tablets. The chapters released in early April make it easy to jump straight to where you want to go in a video like a book. This is not rocket science. It helps me get exactly where I want to go and then get out of my way.
On the desktop, a video with chapters looks no different than videos that have always looked. In fact, the biggest change is barely noticeable: in the bar that shows the progress of the video, there are small black breaks to indicate where each chapter ends and a new one begins. If you scrub over a section with the mouse, the title of the chapter in which it is located is displayed.
There is no limit to which videos chapters can receive or which creators have access to the function. The only catch is that chapters are not automatically applied to every video. Unlike many new projects that Google is introducing, this project is not based on machine learning (at least not yet). To get chapters on another video, you need to make sure that the video description contains some timestamps. This is the same somewhat cumbersome workaround that developers have used for years to make navigating their videos easier.
Basically, this function is based on the uploader setting time stamps (the first one has to start at 00:00) and a chapter title that fits everyone in the description. Your video must also have at least three timestamps, each longer than 10 seconds. Then the new feature of YouTube scratches this metadata to use for the user interface of the new chapters.
If you’re looking for examples of videos with chapters in action, check out this Radiohead performance from 2000 or this cooking video. This unofficial mix of Persona 5 Melodies also have chapters. According to YouTube, creators are reminded to insert chapters during the upload process to ensure that chapters are moved forward in more videos. However, this is completely optional.
YouTube will work on applying chapters to YouTube Originals content, although a YouTube spokesman said so The edge These paid films do not contain chapters at the start.
YouTube shared with The edge The emergence of this feature was based on videos uploaded to the platform – especially how difficult it was for some viewers to know how far or little they could proceed to the next step without going through chapters.
Matt Darby, product manager at YouTube, and Robert Thompson, UX designer at YouTube, told me that their team actually visited people’s homes to see how they interact with videos. If these two gentlemen came to my home, they would see that I almost went mad when I tried to pinpoint the exact moment in a 20-minute instructional video that I had to watch making sourdough bread. Chapters would have been great, and hopefully the creator will add them soon (Hello Pro Home Cooks, great video).
For those who want to use their keyboard to jump forward in videos, YouTube has told me that they are working on a new set of keyboard shortcuts to make it easier for power users to switch between chapters even though they are not ready to start. YouTube also said it’s about providing gestures for navigating between chapters on mobile devices, since portable displays come in so many different shapes and sizes, although they’re not available when launched.
Chapters aren’t the most exciting feature to land on YouTube, but they’re still a welcome (though somewhat overdue) quality of life feature that makes navigating video content much easier. We’ll check the feature again later to see how the developers adapt to it. We will also let you know if it started on more devices. YouTube is currently launching on desktop and mobile devices, although the company has informed me that “it is definitely considering” transferring the function to set-top boxes and game consoles on which the app is currently available.