YouTube's 2021 updates focus on Shorts, streamer donations and online shopping

Mariella Moon
·Associate Editor
·2-min read

YouTube鈥檚 Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan has revealed the new features and products we can expect to arrive on the platform this year, starting with the US expansion of its TikTok-like video format called Shorts. It was released as a test feature in India back in December and has been successful enough that the Shorts published by Indian creators have gotten over 3.5 billion daily views around the world thus far. The format's beta version will be available in the US starting in March. 

It's also expanding the availability of video chapters. Back in 2020, the website has rolled out the chapters feature, which makes navigation easier by taking viewers to specific parts of the video they want to watch in one click. YouTube will soon make the feature feel more intuitive and will expand it so that it can automatically add chapters to relevant videos even if the creator doesn't make and upload their own chapters.

YouTube TV will introduce an add-on option in the near future, as well, one that will let subscribers watch shows in 4K when they're available, or to download them to a DRV for offline viewing. The add-on will also enable unlimited concurrent streams at home. And, later this year, YouTube Kids will launch new parental tools, including an option that will give parents a way to add specific videos and channels from the main platform to their children's viewing choices. 

To give creators another way to make money, YouTube will make its applause feature more widely available this year after launching it as a test feature in 2020. Similar to how Twitch creators can make money when a viewer cheers for them, YouTubers will be able to earn money from viewers buying the platform's clap animation for their video. In addition, the website is expanding the ability to shop directly from videos by tapping on the shopping bag icon in the bottom left of the screen. It's unclear if the expansion will make it available to creators from other parts of the globe, but YouTube started trialing the feature for US viewers back in January. These are but a preview of what's to come -- Mohan says the Google subsidiary will publish a series of blog posts expounding upon the upgrades it's planning to release for the platform this year.