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YouTube updates mobile service

YouTube’s recent unveiling of a new mobile site is more evidence of the growing importance of the mobile Internet. The company reports that it now receives more than 100 million mobile video playbacks per day, which represents a 160 percent growth over last year.

The updated version of the mobile site more closely replicates the online experience of YouTube, including such online features as suggestions, playlists and the popular “like,” “unlike” and “favorite” options found on the website. The new mobile site is also faster and features a more touch-centric user interface. The new version is only available in English, but the company plans to roll out versions in additional languages in the next few months.

YouTube, which first introduced its browser-based mobile service in 2007, has also vowed to port improvements on the online site as quickly as possible to the mobile site, “unlike native apps, which are not updated as frequently." This refers to YouTube’s mobile apps for Android and Apple’s iOS. Early reports suggest that the new mobile site offers a better user experience than existing YouTube apps.

The new version of YouTube’s mobile site also offers some forward-looking features: The site has been optimized for HTML 5-compliant browsers, uses H.264 for video playback (not the H.263 currently used) and offers a range of playback quality options, including a high-quality 250Kb/s.

In addition to the new mobile site, YouTube has also embarked on “Life in a Day,” a documentary production that adds some professional flair to its user-generated content. In a tacit acknowledgment that UGC has its limits, the company collaborated with directors Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald to create “the first user-generated, feature-length documentary film.” The production encourages users to shoot moments from their lives on July 24. Shooters will upload their footage to a specific area of YouTube’s site, and Macdonald will select footage that he will edit into a feature-length film. People whose footage makes it into the film will be credited as co-directors, and YouTube will fly 20 of them to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, where the film will premiere along with the online debut on YouTube. The project is being produced by Scott and his company, Scott Free Productions. Scott Free Productions is also working with Rich Smolan, creator of “A Day in the Life” and CEO of Against All Odds Productions, to ensure that NGOs and non-profits receive between 400 and 500 cameras so people in remote regions of the world can contribute to the project. LG Electronics is supporting “Life in a Day” as part of its Life's Good campaign.