New Spotify beta adds looping videos to music discovery as part of major updates

Spotify has announced two major updates: a slew of new features coming to its Car Thing device and the launch of Canvas looping videos on its mobile app. 

Both updates have begun rolling out to Spotify users. The Car Thing features will be limited to the U.S. and iOS users will get the update first. Android owners will get everything at a later date. 

Canvas has a greater reach as the videos will release in beta across the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada for the Spotify mobile app.

More hands-off control

Car Thing was designed as a more convenient way to control Spotify while you drive and that core functionality is being expanded. Owners will now be able to see incoming calls on their screen where they can either answer the call or dismiss it.

Another big change is “Add to queue” which Spotify claims is one of its most requested features. It’s essentially the same feature on the mobile app where you can add songs or podcasts to a tracklist, but now you can use your voice.

There’s also going to be a new “Add to queue” icon on the touchscreen to add the song to a playlist or you can press and hold the dial to do the same thing. Other features include the ability to use your voice to ask Spotify for a personalized playlist and to control other media.

Looping recommendations

Canvas videos appear to have been inspired by Tik-Tok as a way to help people discover new types of music. Every day, Spotify will recommend you 15 Canvas loops based on the music that you like. You can scroll through the personalized selection to hear a preview and the Canvas for each song.

If you like what you see and hear, you can add the song to a playlist or follow the artist straight from the Canvas loop. The feature will also allow you to post the Canvas onto a social media app and have it loop in the background of a Story.

Canvas will be right on the mobile app’s home screen and will be created by the artists themselves to offer a sneak peek into the creative process. The full list of artists that will be in the Canvas section is unknown, but Spotify did reveal singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo as one of them.

Spotify didn’t say how long Canvas videos will be; whether it’s a 30-second loop or up to a 3-minute stream like TikTok.

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New Spotify beta adds looping videos to music discovery as part of major updates

Spotify has announced two major updates: a slew of new features coming to its Car Thing device and the launch of Canvas looping videos on its mobile app. 

Both updates have begun rolling out to Spotify users. The Car Thing features will be limited to the U.S. and iOS users will get the update first. Android owners will get everything at a later date. 

Canvas has a greater reach as the videos will release in beta across the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada for the Spotify mobile app.

More hands-off control

Car Thing was designed as a more convenient way to control Spotify while you drive and that core functionality is being expanded. Owners will now be able to see incoming calls on their screen where they can either answer the call or dismiss it.

Another big change is “Add to queue” which Spotify claims is one of its most requested features. It’s essentially the same feature on the mobile app where you can add songs or podcasts to a tracklist, but now you can use your voice.

There’s also going to be a new “Add to queue” icon on the touchscreen to add the song to a playlist or you can press and hold the dial to do the same thing. Other features include the ability to use your voice to ask Spotify for a personalized playlist and to control other media.

Looping recommendations

Canvas videos appear to have been inspired by Tik-Tok as a way to help people discover new types of music. Every day, Spotify will recommend you 15 Canvas loops based on the music that you like. You can scroll through the personalized selection to hear a preview and the Canvas for each song.

If you like what you see and hear, you can add the song to a playlist or follow the artist straight from the Canvas loop. The feature will also allow you to post the Canvas onto a social media app and have it loop in the background of a Story.

Canvas will be right on the mobile app’s home screen and will be created by the artists themselves to offer a sneak peek into the creative process. The full list of artists that will be in the Canvas section is unknown, but Spotify did reveal singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo as one of them.

Spotify didn’t say how long Canvas videos will be; whether it’s a 30-second loop or up to a 3-minute stream like TikTok.

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TikTok takes on YouTube with 10-minute videos – but will people watch?

TikTok has enabled the ability to create videos that can last for up to 10 minutes, an increase from three and five minutes for different creators.

Over the last 18 months, the company has been testing different length videos that creators could publish, with a limit of five minutes that's been in place since 2019.

However, some creators wanted TikTok to extend the length, to better compete with YouTube and Instagram Reels. Now that it's here, though, one wonders if TikTok users want 10-minute videos to scroll through in their 'For You' feed.

Analysis: 10-minute videos may be a niche appeal

TikTok is a social platform where you scroll vertically to watch videos. While you can watch videos from users you follow, or another called 'For You' where TikTok's algorithm curates new videos from creators you don't follow, the app's appeal is to watch short videos to pass the time.

10-minute videos may be a stretch. We're getting perilously close to the range of a web movie or TV show. The 2003 series Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a good example here, where episodes could range between three and twelve minutes. To be fair, we rather enjoyed that series. With the new 10-minute-range, TikTok could start bringing more episodic series to the platform

In the near term, though, TikTok's new competitor is clearly YouTube, a platform that's already attracting some TikTok creators anxious for more time on the digital stage.

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Longer videos on TikTok may help some creators in the topics they create, such as making pancakes, throwbacks to old TV shows, or a documentary on certain topics.

But 10-minute videos will require users to sit down and focus on what they're watching, instead of mindlessly scrolling through. On the other hand, these longer videos are entirely optional. It's possible that you won't see 10-minute TikToks in your feed. You might also choose to help the algorithm filter them out for you by not pausing to watch any of them. After all, who has an hour to spare for TikTok?

As for Tiktok, these extended videos are a sign that it wants some of its creators to cover topics that can only be explained in relatively long-form videos. Their success in that effort will depend on how users will respond to the change.

And as TikTok comes for YouTube, YouTube is coming for TikTok, too. YouTube has its own take on TikTok called Shorts, where creators can release shorter content, but it's a feature still in its early stages.

While TikTok takes on the video giant, it's also tackling its own monetary issues, making sure creators feel compensated so they don't jump to the potentially more lucrative YouTube.

The monetization efforts compared to YouTube are reportedly very small, which has meant that creators such as hankschannel are moving away from TikTok for more income on Google's video platform.

Essentially, TikTok's faced with a multi-pronged effort to excite and keep active creators: longer videos for more creative freedom and new monetization efforts to match the creators' extra effort with better revenue streams.

It's only then that the company has a chance to go head to head with YouTube, but it also depends on whether more creators and users will jump ship to TikTok and its new 10-minute video opportunity.

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Instagram to allow videos of up to 60 seconds on Stories

Instagram recently shared a social trends prediction report that provided insights on how the company perceives its target audience behaving in 2022. Possibly it was in this light that the Meta-owned video and photo sharing platform came up with some tweaks to the way users interacted with the app.  

Firstly it reverted to the chronological order of showcasing content and followed it up with a unique way of generating nostalgia among users. The latest in this series is an update that would allow users to upload videos of up to 60 seconds on their Stories. The current length happens to be just 15 seconds. 

A report in 9to5Mac quoted a post from an Instagram user Turkey to indicate that the social network app has indeed begun notifying select users about this change. At this point in time, videos going beyond 15 seconds gets automatically split into more than one post on Stories. Alternatively, the user could opt for uploading the video on to Reels and then showcasing a clip on Stories. 

What does it all mean?

“Discover longer stories. Videos up to 60 seconds will no longer be segmented,” says the message from Instagram in what appears to be a concerted effort on the part of Meta to regain users from other platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok. 

The change comes barely a couple of days after Instagram announced that users can now use the “Reels Visual Replies” feature to post responses on comments around their posts done via Reels. Users will see a new option that allows them to select the Reels button to create a video reply, which will appear as a sticker. 

Besides these changes, the report said Instagram was testing a revamped interface for posting Stories that simplifies the process of adding mentions or locations to a post. Of course, there is no information whether these changes would see the light of the day or when it would happen.

The company is also testing a revamped interface for posting Stories that will make it easier to mention other accounts or add a location to a post. It’s unclear when or if Instagram will make these changes available to all users around the world, as right now only a few users can post longer Stories.

Readers would be aware that TikTok has grown in popularity in recent times in spite of a ban in some countries with Snapchat coming up with a new standalone app for creators to edit and post videos. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Instagram is also in the fray to create innovative features that will keep its audience happy.

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YouTube launches free DIY tool to let SMBs build quick videos

Creating video ads can be a costly and time consuming process which is why YouTube has launched a new tool to help small businesses create simple videos to better reach their customers.

The company's YouTube Video Builder has already been in the testing phase for several months but Google decided to fast track the tool's beta release to allow businesses to easily advertise their products during the global pandemic when in-person video shoots are no longer possible. 

In a blog post announcing the beta of YouTube Video Builder, director of product management at YouTube ads, Ali Miller explained how both large and small businesses can use the tool to reach their customers, saying:

“Different businesses have different creative needs. A restaurant may want to communicate changing hours or promotions, while a supermarket may highlight new services like curbside pickup. For brands or agencies with existing video resources, Video Builder can help bring agility and experimentation to the creation process by generating supplemental, lightweight videos. For smaller businesses and those with less creative experience, it can provide an efficient, low-resource way to create videos, perhaps even for the first time.” 

YouTube Video Builder

YouTube's new tool is now available for businesses to try out for themselves but they will first have to sign up to participate in the beta. Once accepted, businesses will need a Google account as well as a YouTube channel to start making and publishing videos.

The beta version of YouTube Video Builder allows businesses to animate their images, text and photos and set them to music from YouTube's free audio library. Users will also be able to select from a variety of layouts and customize the colors and fonts in their videos to create short six or 15 second videos.

Finished videos can be uploaded to a business' YouTube channel but more importantly, they can also be run as ads through Google Ads.

While YouTube's new tool has just entered its public beta phase, both large and small companies including the interior design service Havenly, sandwich shop Which Wich and the grocery store Central Market have already been using the tool to create their own videos.

Interested businesses can sign up here to gain access to the beta and Google Ads has also published a guide on how to use the new tool.

Via TechCrunch

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