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YouTube Revamps Its Android App With Vertical Video (Updated)

News from CEO Susan Wojcicki's appearance at Vidcon. What you didn't hear about: Facebook and paid subscriptions.

FilmMagic/FilmMagic, via YouTube
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has spent the past few months telling everyone that the world’s biggest video site is all about mobile, mobile, mobile. So here’s one way to underscore it: A revamped mobile app and mobile site.

Android and iOS users can get the update now. There’s a slicker design and new features that are supposed to make it easier to edit and upload footage to the site, which already processes 400 hours of new content every minute.

Update: Earlier Thursday, YouTube announced that the update would initially only be available for Android users and that an iOS version would be ready “very soon.” That was fast: The iOS update is now out, too.

And, as sharp-eyed bloggers noticed earlier this week, the new app allows you to watch vertical video in full screen, since that’s the format so many people use when they shoot video.

Now picture Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, smiling.

Wojcicki introduced the new app onstage at Vidcon, the annual YouTube fan convention that also doubles as a video industry convention; this year the convention expects to see an astonishing 21,000 visit the event, held right outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Wojcicki also used her stage time to soothe and encourage the people who make videos for YouTube, and who are constantly wondering about the best way to interact with the site: Should they devote all of their resources to it? Most of their resources? Or should they look for a new home?

This time around, the big question for YouTube and its advertisers and video makers is about Facebook: Now that the social network is providing real competition for YouTube — it’s the first time YouTube has had real competition — how will the site respond? But Wojcicki and her crew aren’t interested in answering that one onstage.

Also unaddressed today: YouTube’s plan for its music subscription service, which has spent a very long time in beta mode, and an ad-free subscription service. YouTube executives continue to say that they expect to launch those this year; most people in the Web video world expect the two of them to be bundled together.

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