YouTube Leanback Now Available for Big Screen Consumption


youtube leanback screenshot

We all got a sneak peek of YouTube Leanback at Google I/O earlier this year, if you remember, during the Google TV unveiling. Now, YouTube has officially launched the service to the public for use on large screen computer displays and HDTVs.

The one odd thing people will notice right off the bat is that YouTube Leanback currently can only be operated via a select few keyboard buttons and that video automatically starts playing as soon as you arrive to the site. If you click on the down arrow a couple times during video playback, you are then able to browse content categories like Your Feed, Autos & Vehicles, Comedy, Education, Entertainment, Howto & Style, etc. If you click up in the same situation, you’ll get a search bar. Both functions, in my opinion, need a short cut key.

Button controls: left/right/up/down arrows, space bar (pause), and return

Unfortunately, the one thing that didn’t quite work as expected was the “Your Feed” category. After a little testing, it turns out Your Feed is a combination of YouTube recommendations derived from your previous viewing history and selections from your subscriber list. Personally, I’d prefer it only did the later. And, in case you’re the type who likes to Favorite and Like videos on YouTube, YouTube Leanback does not offer that capability at this time — but I’m sure it’s coming.

The biggest take away here: this HTML5 web app is leaps and bounds better than YouTube XL, which basically was designed for the same purpose.

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