17 May 2010

Context menu for YouTube videos

YouTube new context menu These last few days I’ve been juggling several browsers while testing them for speed and standards support. And, like it sometimes happens when trying to focus on one subject, I discovered something entirely different by accident. More to the point, I right-clicked an YouTube video and saw that the regular Flash-specific context menu now has several extra options related to the video itself.

Most of them are not new, being tested and released in the previous months, but this is the first time I noticed them together. The extended context menu is most likely one of the features introduced with the new version of the player. As far as I can tell, embedded videos and those still using the old interface have a different menu, with fewer options.

The first entry, ‘Report playback issue’ links to a support page that would otherwise go ignored by the majority of users and probably cause a lot of frustration. ‘Stop download’ has been around for a couple of months and it’s probably the most useful if you are on a slow connection and don’t want to strain it when you pause a video. It could actually be a great addition to the YouTube site: if you open several videos in different tabs, all of them begin buffering immediately. An option to turn this default off, at least temporarily, would be more user-friendly.

YouTube context menu for embedded videos For bloggers, the option to ‘Copy embed html’ will make their life a bit easier, because now there is no need to visit the YouTube page or fast-forward to the end to find this code. Additionally, embedded videos have an extra menu item to ‘Watch on YouTube’. This one is not such a big improvement, considering that you can click on a video while playing to open it’s YouTube page. Since clicking on the video on the site acts like a ‘pause’ button, this should happen with the embedded videos for better consistency, now that this context menu was added.

If you are interested in statistics about the download speed on YouTube, no doubt an important factor for a smooth experience, you should check out the entry ‘Take speed test’. This service is also a couple of months old and shows users how their ISP connection compares to the global average and to the neighborhood, at city and country level. Apparently, my download speed is marginally higher than the global average, but less than half the country average! I guess this report was right placing Romania in the top 10 countries with the fastest broadband connections! Nevertheless, it’s usually enough to have a good playback, even at high resolutions.YouTube my average speed in Mbps

YouTube video info Another set of stats, this time at the video level, is provided by ‘Show video info’. This overlays a semi-transparent box on the top left of the video, showing video resolution and file size, as well as a real-time graph of the current download speed.

It’s always a good sign to see a site or service experimenting with new options and making tools more transparent and easier to find by the users. I’m curios what the next five years of YouTube will bring to the online world!

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