Like millions of families around the world, my family and I have been breaking our fast this Ramadan in the safety of our own home in the sunny city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia — something I am very grateful for. Although I love my family, and I am thankful to have them here with me this Ramadan, something was still missing.
So I reached out to a few of my friends (Omar Hussein, Noor Stars, the Saudi Reporters, Asrar Aref, and the Anasala Family) and asked them if they wanted to come over for Iftar, and to bring millions of their friends with them.
On Tuesday, May 19, we decided to break our fast together at 6:32 p.m. — sunset in Saudi Arabia. We played games, showed-off our cooking skills, and finally broke our fast along with thousands of people who joined us from across the country and beyond.
What’s incredible is that people all around the world have been trying to find innovative ways to create that sense of togetherness during the holy month while staying safe. Earlier this month, creators in Indonesia came together and hosted a virtual Iftar, bringing together people from all over the country. Also next week, on May 26 at 8 p.m. EEST, Arab popstar Nancy Ajram is going to host a special Eid celebration concert on her YouTube channel.
I am proud I got to be part of this incredible experience that showed the world the power of YouTube and the creator community. Bringing this many people together during this difficult time is truly rewarding.
From all of us, we wish you a Ramadan Kareem and a blessed Eid ahead.
Mohamed Moshaya, YouTube Creator based in Saudi Arabia
The work of trusted journalistic organizations is as critical as ever, especially when it comes to seeking information about current events online.
In March, the Google News Initiative (GNI) kicked off with the goal of helping journalism thrive in the digital age. Today, we’re announcing steps we’re taking with the GNI to support the future of news in online video, and product features we’ve been working on to improve the news experience on YouTube.
Supporting journalism with technology that allows news to thrive
We believe quality journalism requires sustainable revenue streams and that we have a responsibility to support innovation in products and funding for news.
For example, in 2015 European publishers came to us to ask about how they could scale their video efforts, especially because maintaining video delivery infrastructure is costly. Working alongside them we launched Player for Publishers, a solution that enables news organizations to use YouTube’s video player to give viewers a world-class video experience across their own websites and mobile apps. Player for Publishers reduces costs and offers improved monetization for news organizations.
Since then, we’ve expanded these efforts beyond Europe. Today, over 100 publishers in more than 25 countries use Player for Publishers.
As part of the launch of GNI in March, we announced funding to support the future of news. Today we are committing $ 25M to a YouTube-specific investment:
News organizations interested in more information about these efforts can sign up here.
Making authoritative sources readily accessible
Authoritativeness is essential to viewers, especially during fast-moving, breaking news events, so we’ve been investing in new product features to prominently surface authoritative sources:
Providing more sources and context on breaking news
After a breaking news event, it takes time to verify, produce and publish high-quality videos. Journalists often write articles first to break the news rather than produce videos. That’s why in the coming weeks in the U.S. we will start providing a short preview of news articles in search results on YouTube that link to the full article during the initial hours of a major news event, along with a reminder that breaking and developing news can rapidly change.
Expanding Top News and Breaking News
To make it easier to find quality news, our Top News shelf prominently highlights videos from news sources in search results (see the picture below on the left). And when a breaking news event happens, we want users to know about it. That’s why our Breaking News shelf highlights videos from news organizations about that event directly on the YouTube homepage (see the picture below on the right). Today, our Top News and Breaking News features are launched in 17 countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Japan, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and more. We will double that number in the coming months.
Showcasing more local news, starting with the U.S.
Many people want, value, and trust local news. And when a major event happens, local reporters are often the first on site to capture events as they unfold. We’ve begun testing features that surface local news in the YouTube app for TV screens across 25 media markets around the United States, making it easy to access local news in the living room–our fastest growing screen. So far, local news has seen strong engagement, and we will be expanding it to dozens more markets like Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Kansas City.
Providing context to help people make their own decisions
We also believe users should be able to choose and make their own judgments about the information they consume along with context to inform their judgments. That’s why we’re rolling out a few new features that we will continue to build upon:
Giving users more sources of information on topical searches and videos
Starting today, users will begin seeing information from third parties, including Wikipedia and Encyclopædia Britannica, alongside videos on a small number of well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation, like the moon landing and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Investing in digital literacy education
Along with the Google News Initiative and Google.org, we have teamed up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, Local Media Association, and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) to support MediaWise, a U.S.-based initiative designed to equip 1 million teens with digital literacy skills. Six incredible YouTube Creators, including John Green, Ingrid Nilsen, and Mark Watson, will be working with MediaWise to bring awareness to digital literacy and help educate teens.
We remain committed to working with the journalism community to build a more sustainable video ecosystem for news organizations. We know there is a lot of work to do, but we’re eager to provide a better experience to users who come to YouTube every day to learn more about what is happening in the world from a diversity of sources.
– Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer
Elton John has entertained us, moved us, and had an unparalleled career that has redefined the cultural landscape. His unforgettable hits — “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Tiny Dancer” — changed what it meant to be a singer-songwriter, catapulted him to global mega stardom, soundtracked our childhoods, and changed lives along the way. Now after more than half a century on the road, Elton announced details of his final tour, “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” via an exclusive VR180 livestream on YouTube.
Kicking off in the U.S. on September 8, 2018, the tour will consist of more than 300 shows across five continents before reaching its conclusion in 2021. Elton’s new stage production will take his fans on a musical and highly visual journey spanning a 50-year career of hits like no one has ever seen before.
The tour announcement was made at a marquee event at Gotham Hall in New York City, simultaneously transmitted to Troubadour in L.A. and YouTube Space London. And thanks to YouTube’s exclusive VR180 livestream, fans all around the world were part of the action and revisited some of the defining moments that set Elton on his unstoppable path to global superstardom.
Elton John is always up for doing things differently, using the latest technology to help him defy space and time, connecting his past and future. Last year, Elton’s YouTube-supported “The Cut” gave undiscovered talent the chance to create the first-ever official music videos for three of his iconic hits, and now his final farewell tour announcement takes experimentation to the next level – livestreaming in VR.
Check out VR360 video from the event at youtube.com/eltonjohn and additional event footage including two live performances, a Q&A with Anderson Cooper, and “Behind The Scenes” videos in VR180 tracking Elton’s journey, supported by YouTube, will be available in the coming days.
For more info on the tour, go to EltonJohn.com.
Vivien Lewit, Global Head of Artist Services at YouTube
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