YouTube appears to be rolling out a new feature currently that brings chapters support to the video streaming platform.
I use YouTube regularly to watch new videos published by some of the channels that I like. Sometimes, I encounter links to tutorials or other content related to searches that I make, and I often find myself skipping ahead to the actual content (opposed to intros, chit chat, the ever increasing use of sponsored messages, and other things that are unrelated).
It is often a hit and miss kind of experience as most channels don't publish information when certain content starts; this could soon change with the introduction of chapters support.
Chapters work similarly to chapters of DVD and Blu-Ray movies; they divide content and you may jump straight to a chapter at any time. On YouTube, at least in this initial release, it is the task of the creator to create these chapters (basically timestamps that divide content of the video).
YouTube uses the data to separate a video into smaller chunks that you may access using the seek bar. The chunks are separated slightly so that you know when a chapter begins and ends. Additionally, you may hover the mouse over a chapter to see its title to hopefully get a good idea of what that chapter is about.
The screenshot above shows a video with chapters and the separation of the seek bar and the title of the chapter that the mouse is hovered over at the time.
It appears that Google is testing the feature currently on YouTube (both mobile, in apps, and on desktop).
A YouTube support page provides the following information:
[April 10 2020] Testing new video chapters on mobile: to help you more easily navigate videos, we're testing out video chapters, which allow you to jump forward to a specific section of the video, rewatch a portion of the video, and more. Chapters appear at the bottom of the video player and use timestamps from the creator's video description. The feature will appear on a small selection of videos across Android, iOS and desktop while we gather feedback.
Note for Creators: if you're in the experiment and wish to opt out, please adjust the first timestamp in your video description to be something other than 0:00 for example, just change it to be "0:01.
Chapters may be a good way to provide better information to viewers, especially those who want to skip straight to specific content in a video. The new feature works best for longer videos, e.g. a podcast that covers different topics, and not at all for shorter videos, e.g. a single music video.
Creators need to add the timestamps to their videos, and it is likely that YouTube may use the information in search and elsewhere. It remains to be seen if the feature can be abused by creators if the use of timestamps is beneficial in one way or another.
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