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Maybe Google just found its social network after all

Google+ is no Facebook. It's not supposed to be, and it's not going to be. (Facebook made sure of that.) And while that's both good and bad, there's no denying that there's power in numbers. And with more than a billion active users every single day, Facebook has the numbers.

That Google never managed to figure out social will forever be a black mark on the company's legacy. For all the incredible engineering work its done, Google couldn't win at getting folks to talk to each other? (OK, maybe it's not that surprising.)

But perhaps Google's about to finally carve out its social niche — in a very familiar place.

YouTube.

YouTube is adding livestreaming to its mobile apps. That it hadn't already — ceding months and months and millions and millions of users to the likes of Periscope and now Facebook (and, I'd argue, Snapchat) — is damn near criminal. This is YouTube we're talking about. This is Google. It's been doing livestreaming for what seems like forever. Hangouts on Air made it ridiculously simple for anyone to spin up their own online talk show. So why not on phones?

I'm old. And despite living this digital stuff every damn day, I still think in old ways sometimes. If I start streaming from YouTube, who's going to see it?

YouTube Live

YouTube's going to see it, dumbass. All those subscribers. All those people who already are notified anytime their favorite channel adds a new video. And now? They're going to know when you're broadcasting live. Just like on Facebook. So what if there's not some umbrella website for all things social and Googly? The watercooler is already there, with folks around it. It's YouTube.

YouTube isn't just a repository — a place to stash your videos to be embedded somewhere else. It hasn't only been that for quite some time, a fact some of use figured out too late. Take any number of the personalities out there. (I refuse to call anyone a "YouTube star" or, worse, a "sensation.") They figured it out and cultivated an audience. And you can see just how strong that audience can be if you look at our own MrMobile. And our own Android Central channel continues to grow.

Who's going to see all the livestreaming on YouTube? The millions and millions of folks already there.

And now? Now we'll all have an easy way for our audiences — every single one of us on YouTube — to follow along, live. It won't be constrained to Google+. Chances are we'll still be able to embed streams on webpages, which is fine and all. (But that's also legacy.) No, Google just made it even more important to grow a YouTube audience. It made it even more important to explore what's on YouTube, for it to help separate the wheat from the chaff, and for those of us on the other side of the screen (which, again, potentially is all of us) to do compelling things and create moments that are worth sharing live.

We'll also livestream breakfast, of course. And all that other mundane crap we do every day. (And, yes, the old-guy boss in me recognizes that this is, in fact, one more thing that we're going to have to do in the course of our jobs.) And our subscribers — that's such a clinical, engineery term — will come along for the ride, closer than they've ever done before.

So maybe with live streaming directly from the YouTube app in our pockets, Google's finally going to find itself with sort of social network it should have cultivated from the start. Or maybe it's had it all along, and we just haven't thought of it in the right way.

30 Comments
  • OMG!!! I think this is crazy cool Rodeo time, time to get er on down the road.
  • It's about time. There are times that I'd like to live video something cool throughout my day that I think my subscribers would like to see, but I've been limited to Facebook and Periscope. ( I'm too old or old fashioned for snapchat). Hopefully the quality will be retained, but somehow I don't think it will be as good as uploading in the original format or resolution. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Maybe YouTube will live stream at a lower quality but allow you to upload the HQ file later with the same URL. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The average YouTube comments section is more toxic than the League of Legends forum. Until that changes, this will never happen. Posted via me pushing buttons
  • And I'd argue that Facebook is nothing more than what happens in the comments of YouTube. I'm gonna bet that it's going to be widely successful. Also, take into account how many people already have the YouTube app on their phones. It's not another app they need to download nor another service they need to register for. It's there and people are going to use it. Posted with the Nexus 6, Nexus 5, or Surface Pro 3
  • YouTube is the place for video, it will probably eat the others lunches. I would follow news casters and other people on YouTube if they did. One place for all my content. No need for an extra app. Posted via the Android Central App Ed
  • Snowflakes will get offended by almost anything not saying you're one.. YouTube comments is no more toxic than any other forms http://reason.com/blog/2016/06/22/saying-on-the-other-hand-got-a-student-r
  • Word. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Every time I read a comment about YouTube comments being "toxic" I'm amazed. All the channel owner has to do is check the box in settings to approve all comments. I've been doing that since the beginning, I have hundreds of thousands of followers and thousands of thoughtful comments. I've blocked a few people but rarely. Once they know that someone is watching, there are very few bad apples. Why every channel owner doesn't do this is a mystery. I have rules for my comments and if you don't follow them, you're out. Simple.
  • Samsung phones have had a link to livestream on Youtube from the camera app for over a year. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep. Number of times I've used it: Zero.
  • Ugggh the young turks is toxic Posted from my cracked Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Yes,the young turks are garbage Posted via the Android Central App
  • Young Turks are ass, they think feelings mean more than facts. Hail Lord Han
  • Well.. When you put it this way, it actually makes sense. Great write up! You just open my eyes to a whole new world of live streaming. I can definitely see myself using this tool for something so simple as a family gathering and sharing it across platforms with other relatives. Or my nephews graduation that I couldn't make it to, due to my work. Posted via Samsung's beast S7
  • Youtube is not a social network in the traditional sense. It's a video platform that happens to feature a strong(and narcissistic) comment section. You can't exactly add friends compared to how you can do so on FB or Twitter. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm not sure that makes it any more or less "social."
  • I agree. Facebook is your central hub, you put your status, vacation photos, funny things, and serious things to you. Instagram is how you express yourself visually, one photo or collage at a time. Twitter is how you vent sms style and stay connected with celebrities. Snapchat is where you communicate in a less than permanent manner. Youtube is where you watch and upload videos. "Social media" is really a network of networks and you use them to consume content and express yourself in the ways that best match your needs.
  • Or watch videos on YouTube and not bother with the other crap,just what works for me Posted via the Android Central App
  • Me too. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Interesting take on this. I hadn't thought of it this way.
  • Google+ is a social network for gamers and debaters. I really like it and use it more than all other social media. Kaiser
  • It is a tech/geek news feed for me and an easy way to share all kinds of media. One of the MANY things I loath about Facebook is what a pain (by comparison) it is to share something one on one. Oh and I can share music from Google Play using it too. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • Samsung!!.... Posted with ❤love❤
  • Cue the comments section jokes R.I.P GPe program
  • I agree about the power of YouTube. It is gorgeous on my G4. Convenient on my Roku 3 and the big screen and works flawlessly with my Chromecast. I had every intention of playing my computer game last night but found myself on YouTube for the evening (I subscribe to a lot). YouTube a first blush looks like a cluttered mess but it actually isn't. I've figured out how to navigate the site as well as manage my own videos with relative ease (Twitter still confuses the **** out of me - don't get me started on Facebutt). Not sure I'll ever have use for love streaming but I love seeing the site advance. Nice Job Mountain View. Posted with my LG G4 6.0 via the Android Central App
  • When? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can you live stream via a GoPro? Posted via the Android Central App
  • About damn time! That's all I have to say 'bout that. Posted using the power of my mind!
  • I still use Google+ daily. I use it way more than Facebook and Twitter. Posted via the Android Central App