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Digital Media

YouTube amps up mobile -- and goes virtual

Google's massive video site is revamping its mobile app and says it will support 360-degree, three-dimensional video this year, opening the door to legit virtual-reality experiences.

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressed online-video creators at VidCon, a yearly conference expected to have 21,000 attendees. FilmMagic

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- YouTube wants to serve you better on the go and in virtual reality.

Google's gigantic video site has redesigned its mobile app to include new notifications and offer more control over uploaded clips on the go. It also plans to support three-dimensional, 360-degree video later this year, the underpinnings for full virtual-reality experiences of YouTube clips, said Susan Wojcicki, the site's chief executive.

Wojcicki made the announcements Thursday during a keynote speech at VidCon, a yearly conference for the online video industry -- focused on YouTube-type free video -- in Anaheim, California.

Online video, especially content made specifically to be watched on the Internet, has grown in popularity to the point of altering how traditional television companies approach their business. The last year has been marked by a slew of purely online options to watch traditional TV channels, such as HBO Now, as well as increased movement of so-called "YouTube stars" into mainstream culture, such as Bethany Mota's turn on "Dancing with the Stars." As viewers demand more digital ways of watching, more video -- even some of the most high-value content -- is becoming accessible outside the old strictures of a cable subscription or a broadcast signal.

During her keynote, Wojcicki pointed out that on mobile devices alone, which account for more than half the site's views, YouTube beats every cable network in the US at reaching people 18- to 49-years-old, a key demographic that advertisers pay attention to.

The mobile app's redesign has a more streamlined look, with the most frequent ways people watch YouTube in three new tabs. It adds video creation tools, to allow uploaders to trim footage, apply filters, add music and upload videos all inside the app, and offers a way for fans to elect to be notified whenever a new clip is posted to a channel.

Later this year, YouTube will expanded its support for 360-degree video -- a type of footage taken by specialized cameras that capture everything around the shooter -- to also support 3D. That will allow people with devices like Google Cardboard or the forthcoming Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset to immerse themselves in virtual-reality experiences through YouTube.

The company will also put Jump cameras, which are specialized rig contraptions to capture the footage needed to create a virtual-reality experience, in all its YouTube "Spaces," where creators can use them and other equipment and sets free.