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article imageYouTube unveils built-in direct messaging feature

By James Walker     Aug 8, 2017 in Technology
YouTube has started rolling out an in-app messaging feature designed to keep conversations about videos within the walls of its platform. The mobile-only chat hub lets you send messages directly to other YouTube users, without using public comments.
YouTube has been testing the feature for well over a year. This week, it officially announced messaging, pitching it as a "new way" to share YouTube videos. The YouTube app now has a chat tab on its main screen that opens the dedicated messaging interface.
Visually, YouTube conversations are virtually identical to existing messaging apps. You can create conversations with individuals and groups that display as threaded chats. It's possible to send emoji, link different YouTube videos and "like" responses from friends.
YouTube Messaging
YouTube Messaging
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While it looks the part, YouTube Messaging's not meant to be a direct rival to the likes of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Google's own Allo. Instead, YouTube wants it to be used as a discussion thread for YouTube videos. Rather than sharing a video link using a third-party app, you can now send it directly to friends using YouTube Messaging.
The idea is you'll use the in-app chat facility to talk about videos you've watched with your friends. It offers a way to create private conversations about a video. This is critical to YouTube as it grows its platform since the company can increase user engagement by bringing video discussions onto its own platform.
YouTube Messaging
YouTube Messaging
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"We've been experimenting with a better way to share videos on YouTube since last year. Thanks to all your feedback, we made some improvements and are now ready to roll out this new sharing feature to all users globally," Google wrote on the YouTube blog. "Starting today, you can share videos with your friends and family directly on YouTube. We think it'll make sharing easier, faster and more fun on your phone."
Messaging isn't yet available on YouTube's desktop site, a limitation that's sure to restrict its reach. Although most YouTube users now browse from its mobile app, there's still a good proportion of visitors who favour the desktop site. Google's clearly targeting messaging towards its trend-focused audience of mobile users who already enjoy sharing new videos with friends.
YouTube Messaging is rolling out now to iOS and Android devices worldwide. You can get started with the feature by heading to the "Shared" tab and creating a new conversation with one of your contacts.
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