YouTube cancels RealTime social video sharing

The experimental feature sought to bring an as-it-happens social aspect to Google's video-sharing site.

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YouTube RealTime showed what your friends were watching. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

YouTube has canceled an experimental feature called RealTime, which brought an as-it-happens social aspect to Google's video-sharing site.

The move was announced early Monday on a YouTube help forum page:

We've seen some of you wondering what occurred to the Realtime Toolbar. The Realtime Toolbar was recently retired and is no longer an available feature on YouTube.

We were excited to release and experiment with Realtime and it has inspired us for new features on YouTube in the future. We look forward to introducing many new features in the coming months and are sharing them with you all. Many thanks to those of you who used Realtime and for your feedback to us on this feature- your suggestions and input help the Team shape the site and determine what should be developed to further improve the YouTube community.

~ Liz (on behalf of the YouTube Team).

YouTube began testing the opt-in feature last April through an invitation-only viral marketing campaign. A toolbar across the bottom of a YouTube page showed you what your friends were watching and commenting on, showed them what you were up to, and popped up invitations from friends who wanted you to see something.

However, the invitation-only feature never got a wide roll-out, and some users complained that it didn't really make using YouTube any different. It basically performed the same function as an IM, e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook note sent by a friend on an interesting video.