The YouTube update on Friday brought a generally well-received redesign, incorporating the Material theme and a whole lot of red. The app didn't just receive a visual refresh, it also gained much needed functionality in the form of search filters. These changes are certainly enough to justify a major version bump, but those weren't the only noteworthy things to turn up in this version. Here's a hint: we can look forward to much more music on our YouTube videos in the future.
Adding Music To Your Videos
Most content creators on YouTube know that an interesting video requires both good visuals and sound. It looks like Google is going to add a feature to the YouTube app to make the latter part of that equation a little simpler to achieve. A new set of strings point to a new "swap" ability that will allow uploaders to replace their existing audio track with another.
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_button_description">Change audio track</string>
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_tab_genres">GENRES & MOODS</string>
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_tab_on_device">ON DEVICE</string>
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_ads_indicator_description">Ads may show at the start of your video if you use this track</string>
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_play_button_description">Preview this track</string>
<string name="upload_edit_audio_swap_select_button_description">Select this track</string>
Options will include completely free and ad-supported music. Tracks can be chosen from a list of genres and currently popular songs. Videos including certain tracks will be flagged to show an ad in the beginning. It's not mentioned here, but YouTube Music Key subscribers are probably exempt while free users will always see ads. I don't mean to sound cynical or conspiratorial, but if this feature turns out to be popular, it will probably drive many new subscriptions as a side-effect.
By all appearances, swapping will only support music licensed for replay on YouTube, and won't allow for custom or overlapping audio (merging original audio with the music). This decision was probably made to prevent users from easily substituting or remixing unlicensed music into their videos.
It's likely that the licensing agreements YouTube has with copyright holders specifically account for re-use in videos, and may have required an explicit decision to opt-in to this feature. Since there are some incredibly complicated licensing issues with this kind of feature (and other potential variations), it's possible that this is responsible for the delayed launch of Music Key.
This feature is almost certainly targeted at people who record how-tos, clip videos, and of course, gameplay footage (example). The same functionality will surely appear in the web interface, when it's ready to launch. This obviously can't replace proper video editing software, but it might be enough for quickly produced videos. A somewhat similar feature was announced just yesterday on the YouTube Creators blog, which allows convenient checks on videos for violations and downloading free and ad-supported music.
From a close examination, it looks like the feature probably isn't ready to launch with the current version. There are bits and pieces that make up a skeleton of an interface and a little bit of code to drive it; but otherwise, it looks mostly empty.
This actually isn't a big item, but I saw it and thought some people might care to know. YouTube recently incorporated the ability to download videos for offline playback, and the app was made smart enough to resume downloading if a restart occurred mid-transfer. Unfortunately, the same courtesy was not given to videos that were to be uploaded. It looks like this oversight is finally going to be taken care of, with a new service that can launch when the phone finishes booting.
Note: I've tested this a couple of times, but it doesn't appear to be operational yet. (Maybe something went wrong?) If you have to restart your phone while an upload is in progress, make sure to open the YouTube app and pull up the uploads screen to get things going again.
That's about it. YouTube looks prettier, it can search better, and one day, it will be able to swap in music on videos. We'll probably see quite a bit more happening in a couple of months, now that the redesign is out of the way.