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YouTube's Top 10 Launches of 2009

By Hunter Walk and John Harding

Director, Product Management and Engineering Manager

Did you know that we released more features in 2009 than in 2007 and 2008 combined? This made it the busiest year on record for the YouTube product and engineering teams. Some of these launches, like support for 1080p, made sizable splashes, while others, like "trending topics" appearing at the bottom of the browse page, went out with less fanfare. With so much going on, we wanted to pause before the new year begins to review the things that hopefully made the biggest impact on your overall YouTube experience:

  • Auto-Share - As part of our wider effort to integrate YouTube into the social and communication platforms you use every day, AutoShare automatically syndicates your YouTube activity to Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader.

  • 1080p - In November, we unveiled support for videos in 1080p (aka "full HD"). Want to test it out? Check out this video.

  • Auto-Speech Recognition - Google's automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology, coupled with YouTube's captioning system, makes videos more accessible to the deaf and hearing impaired. This same speech recognition technology can create machine-generated captions, which can then be translated into 51 languages.

  • Mobile Website for Smartphones - Watching videos on -- and uploading videos from -- cell phones is more popular than ever. To meet this demand, we launched a new mobile website designed to make using YouTube on smartphones like the iPhone, G1 and Palm Pre a lot easier.

  • YouTube XL - YouTube XL optimizes YouTube for large screens. In addition to offering larger text and simplified navigation, XL has a continuous play feature, allowing you to search for a topic, hit "play" and then kick back for an uninterrupted viewing experience.

  • VEVO - is a partnership that blends Google and YouTube's technology with music videos from a broad catalog of artists from Universal Music Group, Sony Music and EMI. The site hopes to redefine the way people watch and engage with music online, as well as change the way the digital and music industries do business with each other.

  • Feather - Feather is a stripped-down version of the page on which any video plays. Without all but the basic features, the page loads more quickly and videos play back faster. Give it a whirl in TestTube or click here.

  • 3D - In July, one of our engineers used his free time to implement easier viewing options for 3D videos on YouTube. Here's a brief overview video.

  • Real-Time Comment Search - In October, we released the ability to search YouTube comments in real-time. The comment appears on a continuously updated results page, and "trending topics" indicates the hottest topics of conversation on YouTube at that particular moment.

  • Shows & Movies - In April, we rolled out a destination sporting hundreds of movies and thousands of full-length TV episodes. Offerings have included film classics like Taxi Driver, Ghostbusters and the Spaghetti Western Trilogy, as well as current TV shows from broadcasters like C4 and Channel 5 in the UK.

Which of these features is your favorite? Please use the poll in the top right corner of this blog to let us know what you've found to be most useful in '09, or leave a comment below if there's another feature that had an important impact on your YouTube life.