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YouTube To Discontinue Video Annotations Because They Never Worked On Mobile ( 61

You know those notes found plastered on many YouTube videos, often asking for you to "CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE?" Well, they're called annotations and they're being replaced with what YouTube calls "End Screen and Cards," which are mobile-friendly tools that let content creators poll their audience, link to merchandise, recommend videos, and more. Unlike annotations, they work on mobile and are designed to be less obnoxious to viewers. The Verge reports: YouTube says it made this change primarily because annotations didn't work on mobile and most viewers found them obnoxious and unhelpful. The change takes effect on May 2nd, and existing annotations will continue to show up when using the desktop browser version of YouTube. YouTube annotations have felt increasingly outdated and out of place. The small text boxes were meant as a way to let creators link to other videos, write in little jokes, and add ancillary information to a video much like a hyperlink or footnote of sorts. But over the years, annotation use has drastically fallen off, by 70 percent, YouTube product manager Muli Salem says. In fact, a majority of viewers interact with annotations only to close them, so the boxes don't obstruct the video screen. Many users turn them off altogether. So now YouTube is investing entirely in End Screens and Cards, and making both tools easier to use and faster to implement.
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YouTube To Discontinue Video Annotations Because They Never Worked On Mobile

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  • Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @07:24PM (#54062769)

    YouTube is moving from something that is annoying but at least only is found on desktops to something equally annoying that is -thank god- cross platform. Try hitting that close button on a 5.5" screen with your thumb.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Youtube came into being because it was less annoying than scraping megabytes of video off netnews or specialty FTP sites. Now that they're effectively the only game in town, they're increasing the annoyance factor in using it. This opens a window for a less annoying service to come along. You can bet that if anything comes along that starts showing hints of popularity, Google will again relax the Youtube standards.
  • They also didn't work with Chromecast, but I doubt the new solution does any better. Is it really that hard to design a system that allows for interactivity on devices connected to the Chromecast queue?
    • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @08:57PM (#54063143)

      Now Google just needs to require manufacturers to add the following feature to Android phones.

      Every time the video recorder is turned on and not turned horizontal within 5 seconds, the person holding the phone should receive a small electrical shock. Not a big shock mind you, a small shock that is strong enough to modify the behavior, but small enough that it doesn't drain the battery too much.

      I would even be willing to concede that this feature should be disabled when the phone is in power-saving mode.

      • by santiago ( 42242 )

        Except, you see, that humans are in portrait orientation most of the time (as the name suggests, you see), and we're the majority of subjects of mobile video. And, since so many people are watching video on phones, it turns out that the majority of screens are also in portrait orientation most of the time. So, really, the problem is crummy playback systems that fail to present vertical videos at the maximum possible size.

      • Maybe do that to the developers of Periscope, who seem to think that when you're orientated landscape and you start broadcasting, your video that's saved to the device is not in 1920x1080 landscape, but 320 x 578 portrait, the whole video is tilted 90 degrees. Because of the massive loss of pixels, any correction back to landscape shows the video in terrible picture quality. If you don't live stream with Periscope, the landscape video records in full HD, in landscape.

  • On a phone or when you make your screen or window small, they can (and frequently do) obscure a lot of the image, so people delete them, whereas on a full screen they only impact a small section, so people tend to let them stay.

    On the phone, sometimes they make it so you can't even see a lot of the image, and clicking is more problematic (touch) and error prone, so people just delete the whole streamed video.

    This is why sales/ad people should never control the end-user interface, but instead tech/marketing

    • You seem to be using a novel definition of "delete" I am unfamiliar with. Might you be meaning. "move on to another video"? Or perhaps you are referring to content creators?
    • It wasn't just on mobile.

      Even if you had a big screen, some Youtubers would abuse them by taking way too much space with them.

  • Wasn't there some 'choose your own adventure' game on Youtube, abusing those annotation links? []

    "Shortly after Youtube announced annotations"

    Well, there goes that platform :(

    • The Dark Room: []

      "You awake to find yourself in a dark room."

      I've fond memories of an evening well-spent navigating the many corners of that particular maze. I want to hear more about the war between electricity and steam...

  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @07:43PM (#54062853) Homepage

    Video site shocked when people just want to use it to watch the damn video.

  • Annotations are 1990's technology [] that YouTube and browsers still can't get right.

  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @08:16PM (#54062997)

    Generally speaking, the first thing that I do when I watch any Youtube video is to turn off annotations and change the speed to 125%. For some slow talkers, I change the speed to 150%. This is to try to get close to the speed that I would have read the same information had the video just be a textual website.

    As for the annotations, 99% of them are useless, annoying popups that distract me from the video. I can't imagine that the end screens and cards would be any more relevant.

    • End screens are used at the end of the video to show you other videos you might want to watch. The video is essentially over at this point. The old way of doing this was to embed previews of the videos into your video and then put annotations over them so they become clickable. This was time consuming and there was no way to change what videos were being promoted once the video was uploaded. Now you can create an end screen with just a few clicks and swap out the videos if the need arises. They work, t
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      I don't speed up videos but I definitely turn off annotations a lot.

      They're definitely handy when they're just overwriting typos or such, but the abuse of them is incredible. There's probably dozens if not hundreds of abusive annotations for every useful one.

      As for end screens and cards.. I don't know if they'd be more relevant but they would definitely be more out of the way. So that's a bonus.

      Next thing YT needs to do is fix the embedded ads. Ads at the beginning of a video are annoying to be sure, esp

    • Obviously, with a linear medium like videos, end cards have the substantial benefit that one can just stop watching and move to something else without completing the video.

  • I'm surprised no one at Google ever managed to get annotations to work on mobiles. Still, they found a workaround to port these "obnoxious and unhelpful" additions to mobile platforms... Sidenote : logged in users can disable notifications display in their youtube settings.
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      I suspect by "don't work," they mean "are impractical" more than "technologically impossible." Because YT allowed those annotations to be pretty much entirely free-form, they don't really have a way to enforce them being touchscreen-friendly.

      Not that I have any inside knowledge of how Google operates, I just can't see the problem being their programming capabilities.

  • End Cards can be hidden using the following blocker rule:

  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @02:10AM (#54064117) Journal
    I used them to mark time and areas in a video to show a doctor certain movements and behaviors, to help diagnose my parkinsonian disorder. But hey! Cell phones are all that matter, I guess..
    • In the 3bn hours of youtube watched every month, cases like yours would be lucky to top a few hours. Phones aren't all that matters, but in the grand scheme of youtube your use case won't even be remotely considered.

      It's also not a critical feature for you. If you're trying to describe to someone when and where to look, well Youtube still has a timer you can reference. Write important stuff into the description.

  • didn't they just fix their mobile device to use annotations?

    Sure, many were annoying, but what do you do now to indicate corrections?

  • Annotations should be turned off my default. They can be extremely useful in some cases, there's no sensible reason to throw out a useful feature when it can easily be prevented from annoying anyone just by having it require a click to enable it. Unfortunately, killing useful things because they've gotten a little less popular is google's standard method of operation.

  • A lot of times when I watched a video and someone has made a typo or something, or just spoken a factual error and used a YouTube annotation to alert the viewer to the known error, thinking "they should've re-uploaded the video. This annotation is totally reliant on a proprietary YouTube technology."

    Aaaand now they have. There are gonna be a bunch of mistakes being un-fixed now.

  • Until a year or so ago, I assumed those annotations were ads and ignored them.

  • nobody has an actual end screen edited in so they end up obscuring the last 20 seconds of content.
  • On the videos I watch annotations usually serve two useful purpose :
    - Linking to other videos in a series, or to videos that explain some point of detail or prerequisite. Ex: this video explains how LIGO discovered gravitational waves. If you are unfamiliar with gravitational waves, watch this video first.
    - Fixing mistakes, Ex : trappist-1 is 12 light years away (correction : 12 parsecs).

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. -- Oscar Wilde