YouTube testing feature Netflix tried and cancelled

YouTube has started testing a video randomiser button for the Shorts feature on its mobile app, Android Police reports.

While the company has not officially confirmed the test in its dedicated support page for experimental features, several users have been presented with a new Play button at the bottom right of their app’s screen.

Tapping it will start playing videos from YouTube’s Shorts category, its vertical short-format rival for TikTok and Instagram’s Reels.

Although it is unknown exactly what type of videos will be presented to the user once they tap the button, it will likely be based on their watch history, subscribed channels, likes, and other calculations performed by the platform’s recommendation algorithm.

The screenshot below from shows the new shortcut button for random Shorts videos on the YouTube mobile app.

YouTube previously experimented with a dedicated large banner asking the user if they “Can’t decide what to watch?” and providing a “Play Something” button they can tap to start watching random Shorts.

The features are similar to Netflix’s short-lived “Surprise Me” button, initially also called “Play Something”.

Launched in April 2021 as a way to try and help subscribers find shows, it was removed less than two years later due to relatively low use.

That does not mean it will follow the same fate as Netflix’s button.

Netflix said that its research showed subscribers tended to visit its platform with a specific movie or series in mind.

While many subscribed creators do have loyal followings on YouTube, many people often browse the platform to find something to watch without aiming to check out particular content.

It also benefits from a much larger variety of content in shorter formats, with Shorts videos capped at 60 seconds.

Continuously changing content is also more likely to keep the user’s attention and requires less time and effort to finish watching.

YouTube’s button also appears aimed specifically at providing users with an easier way to access Shorts, instead of having to navigate to the feature’s section or tab.


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YouTube testing feature Netflix tried and cancelled