YouTube is taking inspiration from Snapchat and Instagram by adding a new test feature called “Explore” for its iOS app in the upcoming weeks. The aim of this new feature is to try and get users to watch more videos and for YouTube to show users videos, topics, and channels that they wouldn’t ordinarily see.
The news was announced through the Creator Insider channel on YouTube, also known as the “unofficial” resource for YouTube employees. The channel uploads weekly updates, advice for creators, and behind-the-scenes information on new product launches and developments.
According to the video, the experimental test will affect one percent of YouTube’s iOS viewers. Users who are participants in the trial will see that the “Trending” tab at the bottom of the iOS app screen be replaced by an “Explore” tab. The content from the previous tab will be moved into a section of Explore.
Like many of YouTube’s features, the “Explore” tab will offer up personalized recommendation based on the individual user’s viewing activity. The only difference is that the videos and channels in Explore will be content that users might not otherwise see in their featured content.
“Explore is designed to help you be exposed to different kinds of topics, videos or channels that you might not otherwise encounter, but they’re still personalized,” said Tom Leung, Director of Product Management, in a YouTube video.
An example of how the feature works is a user who was watching videos about telescopes might get recommended videos about high-end cameras. Leung added that the feature will give users “a little more variety.”
Besides offering more variety for users, the hope is that this experiment will also help feature smaller or emerging content creators on YouTube. “We also hope Explore will be a space where creators of all sizes, including emerging creators, can have their content discovered,” YouTube said in a post announcing the test.
Throughout the testing phase, YouTube will review data and feedback from creators before making it a permanent feature.
YouTube’s testing comes at a time of increased competition from Instagram, whose own Explore section features personalized videos, and has launched a rival video streaming service called IGTV. The competition has gotten so heated that YouTube has reportedly offered five to six-figure cheques to entice their top content creators to stay and post on their platform.
By testing out this “Explore” tab, YouTube is making it clear that they are not afraid to battle it out with Instagram while making sure that their creators are valued on the platform.