YouTube unveils experimental new GIF maker, currently in testing on PBS Idea Channel

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YouTube has just released a new GIF-making tool in testing on PBS’s Idea Channel. The tool is available under the share menu and allows users to pick a five-second clip from the video, add two lines of text, and export the file to their computer.

The frame rate of the output isn’t quite buttery smooth, and the inability to pick a longer section of video can be a little annoying, but the tool seems very usable in its first version. Google hasn’t said when this feature will roll out to the rest of YouTube.

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YouTube begins rolling out offline video playback to Android devices in three countries

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Google announced today that it has started rolling out support for offline video playback in the YouTube Android app for three countries: India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The company says that the goal is to help work around limited access to high-speed internet connections.

The new mode will allow many videos to be cached directly on the phone for up to 48 hours in order to be played back later. Users will have the option of selecting what resolution they’d like to cache to make the process as efficient as possible.

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YouTube Rewind 2014 is live featuring Pharrell Williams, Frozen, Ice Bucket Challenge, more

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In recent years YouTube has started a new tradition of uploading a video covering all of the most popular videos to hit the service during the calendar year. The 2014 edition of #YouTubeRewind is now live featuring many viral hits of the year, like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”, references to trends like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and, of course, plenty of “Let it Go” among many other hit songs…

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Facebook pages sharing less YouTube videos, uploading more video direct to site

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While YouTube remains the gold standard for uploading videos online, a new study finds that its presence on Facebook is increasingly declining as page owners opt to upload more video directly to the social network over sharing YouTube embeds. The latest research from social media analytics company Socialbakers reveal that, in November, the number of Facebook videos uploaded directly to the site overtook the number of YouTube videos on Facebook for the first time ever. Read more

YouTube Audio Library can now be searched for ad-supported music

YouTube Audio Library

When a content creator uploads a video to YouTube with music, an automated system called Content ID automatically matches the clip against an extensive database to see if the audio is permitted or infringes copyright. Yet, until now, it was impossible for a YouTube creator to know whether a specific track was allowed or not until after uploading a video. Read more

YouTube stars being offered retention bonuses in face of offers from Facebook & others

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YouTube style star Michelle Phan, whose videos have 3.6M views

Top YouTube video creators are being offered bonuses in return for multi-year exclusivity deals in which they guarantee to post content on YouTube first, reports the WSJ.

Facebook Inc. and video startup Vessel, among others, have tried to lure YouTube creators to their services in recent months, according to people familiar with the discussions.

In response, Google is offering some of its top video makers bonuses to sign multiyear deals in which they agree to post content exclusively on YouTube for a time before putting it on a rival service.

YouTube is reportedly particularly concerned about subscription video startup Vessel, founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar …  Read more

Google reveals plans for kid-friendly versions of Chrome, YouTube, Search, and more

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Earlier this year, a report emerged claiming that Google was hard at work making its services more appropriate and accessible for children. The report noted that the company wanted to overhaul its online products to allow children to legally use them. USA Today has now published a new report, confirming the rumors earlier this year regarding specific services catered to young kids. Google VP of Engineering Pavni Diwanji told the news outlet that Google is currently working on versions of its most popular products, such as Search and YouTube, for kids aged 12 and under.

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Gangnam Style video so popular it forced YouTube to upgrade its viewing counter

A Gangnam Style video posted on the officialpsy YouTube channel has proven so popular, YouTube has been forced to upgrade its viewing counter from 32- to 64-bit, as the company explained in a Google+ post.

We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we have to upgrade!

At the time of writing, the video was showing around 5 million views above the old limit. YouTube has marked the achievement by creating a little mouse-over animation on the number.

If you want to see which video might be next in line to break the old viewing limit, Google Trends now shows the most popular videos of the day.

YouTube also recently allowed channel owners to create custom URLs to match their channel names, after a number of popular ones rebranded as they expanded their content or chose a new focus.

PSA: Google Play Music now comes with access to YouTube Music Key

YouTube Music Key

Last week, we found out that YouTube’s new music streaming service dubbed YouTube Music Key would be accessible to Google Play Music subscribers, however the company didn’t provide an exact date. Today, via Google Play’s official Twitter account, the search giant announced that the service is now available to Music customers at no additional charge.

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YouTube Music Awards set to return in March 2015

YouTube Music AwardsAfter a bit of a hiatus, YouTube announced today that it’s bringing back its Music Awards for a second showing. The event is set to take place sometime in March with the Google-owned company dishing out awards to recording artists selected by its viewers. In addition to having a say-so in who receives top honors, fans will also have some type of creative influence over the content being streamed. Read more

YouTube reaches deal with indie labels, plans to launch subscription streaming service “within weeks”

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According to a report from The Financial Times, YouTube has made a deal to license music from a long list of independent record labels for its much rumored upcoming music streaming service.

Reports that Google has been working on a new YouTube music streaming service have been popping up for over a year, but FT says the company is finally ready to launch it as it makes a deal with the rights agency representing thousands of independent labels: Read more