YouTube, once just a destination, becoming a service too

API updates make YouTube functions accessible to more applications and offer players without the traditional YouTube interface and branding.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Updated at 7:33 AM PDT to include YouTube-TiVo news.

Google's YouTube just announced that it is expanding its APIs to allow more direct access to the service.

The updates to the APIs, or application programming interfaces, give developers deeper access into YouTube for video uploading and allow for "chromeless" players, or players without the traditional YouTube interface and branding.

This move means YouTube will become not just a destination for videos, but a system that serves videos into other apps. Clearly, it's an effort to turn YouTube into an infrastructure play that, once adopted by a developer on a site, would be difficult to remove. It will also give YouTube an even more impressive library of videos, which can be used to serve up advertising.

We've already seen a few apps that use YouTube without advertising it. The music streaming service Songza (read review), for example, is essentially an interface into the audio portion of YouTube's database.

Here is the text of most of the announcement, which we got moments ago:

As part of YouTube's goal to extend its reach beyond the Internet browser by enabling users to discover and share compelling video content wherever they are, YouTube is excited to introduce the latest enhancements to the YouTube APIs and Tools. With this release, YouTube is now providing wholesale access to our extensive video library, worldwide audience, and the underlying video hosting and streaming infrastructure that powers YouTube.

YouTube's latest API offerings allow anyone building a website or software application that is connected to the Internet to upload videos straight to YouTube; let users comment, rate and favorite the videos; and customize and control the Flash player in which the videos are played. This can be used in conjunction with the existing APIs which launched last year and which provide the ability to view videos on other sites and to search for videos on YouTube.

The enhancements to the YouTube APIs and Tools offering are free and easy to use, giving YouTube users yet another way to engage the world of video and actively participate in the YouTube community wherever they are, whenever they want.

Developers can also improve the user experience on their site, gain visibility and traffic, and easily add UGC (User Generated Content) capabilities. With more YouTube functionality and features, developers can enable users to develop more innovative original content directly from their mobile devices and encourage new users to share and engage the community.

Update: Later Wednesday morning, TiVo announced a deal that will make YouTube videos directly accessible from a TV through its digital video recorders, in a service set to go into effect later this year for broadband-connected subscribers with TiVo Series3 DVRs, including the TiVo HD.