YouTube Axon 10 ProSource: Jason England / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google today announced its 2021 roadmap for YouTube.
  • Included in these plans are redesigns for the YouTube and YouTube VR apps, a new 4K option for YouTube TV, and a more social YouTube Music service.
  • Google is also rolling out Shorts, its TikTok competitor, to U.S.-based creators.

YouTube is one of Google's biggest brands. It's a video streaming app, a music streaming service, a video-on-demand platform, and a TV platform all rolled into one. Today, Google shared a couple of updates for the brand at large, expected to be delivered over the course of the year.

Google will continue to improve the user experience of the YouTube app on all platforms in 2021. It revamped commenting and rolled out chapters last year, and this year it says it plans to automatically add video chapters to select videos. It'll also be rolling out a new update to tablets and the VR app. For tablets, Google says this is a "modernizing" update. Hopefully, it matches the desktop web experience in a similar way the Google Photos web app does the newly-revamped Android app.

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For YouTube TV, Google is expanding the kinds of content it supports, it's adding support for 4K streaming and offline downloads via way of a new add-on. The offline support was already spotted this week, but subscribers should be heartened that Google's made it official. The platform now boasts 3 million paid subscribers.

Google today re-shared that YouTube Music had 70 million official tracks, giving it a very large music library compared to Apple Music and Spotify which have the same amount of music but lose out on the sheer number of unofficial user-created content that YouTube boasts. Google has rolled out collaboration features to YouTube Music last year including public playlists, and more. Now, it's going to help make these new user playlists more easily discoverable.

Google's TikTok competitor — Shorts — is coming to the U.S. It launched last year in India, but Google says it's coming to America in March. Google says that YouTube Shorts has seen 3.5 billion daily views daily, hinting at a large potential growth opportunity for creators who hop on board early.

Finally, Google will make it easier to buy products directly from YouTube. No specifics were delivered, but Google noted that they were "beta testing a new integrated shopping experience that allows viewers to tap into the credibility and knowledge of trusted creators to make informed purchases directly on YouTube." Alongside other tools like Applause and Super Chats, this is intended to help creators more easily monetize their channel so they can keep creating content for YouTube.