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YouTube’s testing out Courses, multiple audio tracks, and easier search

YouTube’s testing out Courses, multiple audio tracks, and easier search


Currently, the features are being tested or rolled out in India.

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Illustration of a YouTube logo with geometric background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google has announced that it’s working on a way to make it easier to search through YouTube videos as well as the ability to create educational courses and have multiple audio tracks that make it easy to present content in several different languages (via Android Police). The company is currently testing out some of the features, so they’re not necessarily fully available to everyone yet.

The company says that it’s “piloting” a feature that would let you search in a video from its Search app. If you Google something and end up with video results, you’ll be able to tap a “search in video” button that will let you type in a phrase to see if it shows up in the audio transcript, which is often auto-generated by YouTube. If it is, you’ll be able to see some context and tap on the timecode to be taken directly to the moment where the phrase is said, according to a screen recording tweeted by Google India.

Being able to search through a video’s auto or manually generated transcript isn’t a brand-new feature — you’ve been able to do it on desktop for quite a while, though it was a manual process that involved opening the video and transcript and then using your browser’s search on page function. In October 2021, YouTube said it’d start experimenting with letting people do the same in its mobile apps. While it has since rolled out the ability to view the transcript on iOS or Android, the ability to search through it isn’t widely available.

Screenshot of a YouTube Course.
Creators can charge for Courses or provide them for free. The UI for them basically seems like a better playlist.
Image: Google

The company also announced a feature called Courses that will let creators sell access to a series of educational videos as well as supplemental materials like PDFs or images, which will be available under the relevant videos. While Courses may be a way for YouTubers to compete with other paid educational services like MasterClass or Skillshare, they can also be provided for free while still using the specialized UI meant to guide people through the material.

Google’s also working on another feature that could help make Courses and other videos on YouTube more accessible across a wide variety of languages: the ability to have multiple audio tracks in different languages similar to what’s possible with some streaming services and movies. The feature, which the company says it’s currently beta testing in partnership with some healthcare companies and hospitals in India, works similarly to the captions system: you click on the settings cog and then on the audio track menu, which will present you with all of the languages the video is available in.

You can try using it for yourself with this video here. Google says that its tests involve third-party AI translation and dubbing services, though given that YouTube already has the ability to auto-transcribe and translate captions, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see a built-in text-to-speech feature sometime in the future.

Screenshot of the audio track UI on YouTube.
This feature could be extremely useful for creators in countries with multiple official languages or for those looking to expand their international reach.

The company announced the features during its Google for India presentation (which currently isn’t available on the Google India YouTube channel), and it hasn’t responded to The Verge’s request for comment on whether they’ll be available in other countries. It’s also unclear if the ability to search through YouTube transcripts would eventually make its way over to the YouTube app rather than being limited to the Google app.