Microsoft is trialling new functionality for web browser Edge that expands upon the RSS-style Followable Web feature, which landed recently in early-access.
As part of an A/B testing process, the company is rolling out a new YouTube integration to a small pool of Microsoft Edge users, who will be able to follow their favorite creators with the press of a button.
The YouTube follow button will appear on the right side of the URL bar for trial participants. Clicking the button will provide information about the channel (e.g. subscriber numbers, total videos), a feed of the most recent videos and the opportunity to become a follower.
The feature appears to differ from the native YouTube subscription functionality, instead serving up content to Edge users via the Collections pane, as part of Microsoft’s recent RSS push.
Developed in 1999, RSS (an acronym for Really Simple Syndication) was once one of the most popular ways of keeping track of news and other content published to the web. But its reign was relatively short-lived.
By creating a new avenue for sharing and discovering web content, the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter effectively put an end to the heyday of RSS. Other algorithm-based services like Google News also provided an alternative model for serving up content to web users.
However, as the problems with the algorithm-based approach to content discovery come to light (misinformation, echo chambers etc.), there are plenty of people looking for a way to exercise greater control over the information they are presented with.
Currently, many of these people make do with free RSS readers, a large proportion of which are developed on a shoe-string budget. But now, major web browsers like Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are beginning to offer RSS functionality built-in.
Although RSS services have allowed users to follow YouTube creators for a while, Microsoft appears to be aiming at an altogether richer experience, whereby people are provided with contextual information about a channel as well as being notified when a new video lands.
The feature remains in early access for now, but depending on the outcome of testing may be rolled out as part of a full public build later in the year.
Via Windows Latest