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Twitter tests YouTube video playback without leaving the app

By Nadeem Sarwar March 18, 2021, 2:41 pm
twitter youtube playback

Twitter has been on a roll lately. Aside from announcing a ton of upcoming features, the social media platform has also been actively testing useful new tricks. Earlier this week, Twitter announced that users can set up multiple physical security keys for two-factor authentication to protect their accounts. Now, the company has begun testing another very convenient feature – native YouTube video playback.

As the name makes it abundantly clear, Twitter wants users to be able to play YouTube videos directly on their timeline, rather than being redirected to the YouTube app. Currently, when you tap on the play button on a YouTube preview link in a tweet, the Twitter app opens the YouTube app installed on your phone to play the video. There isn’t an option to watch the video directly without leaving the app on mobile devices. 

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The sorcery that brings this feature to life is called Web View

“Starting today on iOS, we’re testing a way to watch YouTube videos directly in your Home timeline, without leaving the conversation on Twitter,” the company says. In the comments section, the official Twitter Support handle clarified that the company is currently testing native YouTube video playback only on the iOS app, and there is no word when this will make it to the Android side of the mobile ecosystem. 

It appears that Twitter is making use of the Web Views technique here, which allows an app to display rich web content such as an embedded HTML and website content directly within the app. In broad terms, it is essentially a technique to incorporate web content seamlessly into an app’s user interface.

YouTube will count videos watched in Twitter app as views

In the context of Apple’s software ecosystem, here’s how an official support page defines it: “The web view automatically loads embedded resources such as images or videos as part of the initial load request. It then renders your content and displays the results inside the view’s bounds rectangle.” And yes, YouTube will count videos watched inside the Twitter app as a view, per Twitter’s Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour, in case you’re wondering.

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