Last week, Google began rolling out the new version of YouTube, and from the sound of it, everyone should have it by now.
Immediately, some users have been wondering what’s going on with their friend activity on the site. “ I want to see what videos my friends are Liking, Favoriting, I don’t see any bulletins. Where is the Friend Activity?” commented a reader on our article about the roll out last week.
As I said at the time, they seem to be placing more emphasis on Google+ friends (and even Facebook). Google’s goal is for Google+ to be the social glue of all of its products. Having YouTube friends separate from Google friends is counter-productive to this strategy so it makes sense that they would put more focus on Google+.
That’s not going to sit well with everybody, particularly those that have put a lot into developing relationships on YouTube itself over the years, but it does seem to be the direction Google is headed in. You can still see friends functionality from profile pages. You can add people as friends and send message from there.
Keep in mind that having a YouTube account now means having a Google acccount (which is the same account used across Google's other products, including Google+).
Kendall, a Google employee said in a new thread on the YouTube Help Forum, however:
Coming soon, we will be making some adjustments to Friends and Subscriptions which will allow for a much more streamlined experience.
Friends and Subscribers have overlapped in many cases and it’s been confusing how they’re different. Some people both “subscribe to” and “friend” a channel at the same time, making it hard to tell why you’re getting an update. Now, you will have all the information you’re looking for from one source, making your experience much more relevant, easy to view, and (hopefully) more entertaining.
You will have full control over which of your friends you decide to subscribe to. Those who you prefer not to subscribe to will still remain contacts in your Address Book, retaining existing friend-like features such as messaging. Stay tuned for more details around how to get started, including choosing which Friends to subscribe to!
Throughout the thread, Kendall said a few more things in response to various user questions and comments:
There will be similar privacy settings around who can comment, just like there have been. I will give you more details around how to go about using those privacy settings once we start this transition.
You will still have a cap on the number of Channels you can Subscribe to, but, no limit to those you can have in your contacts. Keep in mind though, those who you subscribe to fill your subscription feed, so having thousands of Subscribers would be incredibly difficult to maintain/consume.
You still have the ability to develop your Channel's community through interacting with other Channels.
“Your existing ‘friend’ connections will be automatically converted into Address Book contacts, and when you visit YouTube.com you will be given the option of creating subscriptions to any or all of those accounts,” says Jeff Posnick in a post on the YouTube API blog.
He has a bit more info on the effects on API feeds.