Facebook continues to step up its competition with YouTube with the launch of a new dedicated in-app space for watching videos.
The social network now considers itself “an integral part of how people around the world discover work, and share videos they care about every day”. Indeed, the company has placed a growing emphasis on its streaming service, introducing a raft of new features in the past year – including autoplay for videos, which has helped the social network to reach 4 billion views a day.
Now, a new video space is being introduced on the site and app, which will include a dedicated video feed – featuring separate feeds for clips shared by friends, clips from pages you like, clips you’ve saved to watch later and trending videos.
This new videos section, which marks an open assault upon the kind of browsing experience offered by YouTube, can be accessed by tapping a “Videos” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the “Favorites” section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web – although the feature is currently only being tested with a “small number” of users, so you may well not spot it on your device.
Facebook, though, is wasting no time in rolling out successfully tested features: suggested videos were trialled earlier this year to provide a way for users to discover multiple related videos – and, more importantly, to provide a way for publishers to earn income through adverts – is now being rolled out to most iPhone users. Android and web browser tests are also in the pipeline.
The final feature on the way is the function for users to watch videos in a floating screen on their device – allowing them to multitask on Facebook at the same time. In an age where people frequently use their phones to do things while watching something on the television, the multitasking feature is perhaps the one that will mark Facebook’s fully-fledged arrival on the online video stream. With 360-degree video support added last month and public page users now able to share live videos with fans, YouTube will no doubt already be looking over its shoulder.