San Francisco — Search engine giant Google Inc.’s popular video sharing site YouTube has joined Google and Facebook in the latest bid to improve the way they spread across the web by launching its own URL shortener — Youtu.be. The move apparently comes as the world starts to cut down its URLs to use in the likes of Twitter.
Speaking on the Official YouTube Blog, the video-hosting site said that it hopes cool things will be possible with the new service.URL shorteners seems to have lived their heyday since earlier this year when every other startup was in the link shortening business, with an increasing number of web users using services such as TinyURL and bit.ly to condense links so that they can be shared more easily on social networking sites such as Twitter, which imposes a limit on the number of characters that can be contained within a single message.
“It is all the rage: Link shorteners to ensure that those useful URLs you are sharing does not take up too much precious character count while also giving you an inkling of what you are about to click on. Well, we have just launched youtu.be as a shortener for YouTube video links — and nothing but YouTube links — so you can rest assured that when you see a link with this URL, you are indeed about to click on a YouTube video,” Vijay Karunamurthy, engineering manager at YouTube wrote.
Nevertheless, YouTube made some interesting choices when implementing its own shortener compromising length for usefulness. YouTube’s URL-shortener is at Youtu.be, although if you visit there, you will just be taken to the YouTube home page. You can use the shortener manually though. If you take a video URL and replace the part that says “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=” with “http://youtu.be/” and you will have your short URL.
The new shortened URLs are not exactly that short, certainly not compared to the standard Bit.ly not to mention J.mp. Also, last week both Facebook and Google launched their own shorteners Fb.me and goo.gl. Google’s new URL shortener, goo.gl, will be available through Google’s Toolbar and its Feedburner RSS feed, but is not yet available as a stand-alone service for “broader consumer use”. Facebook’s shortener, fb.me, is predominantly designed for use on mobile device, and it is unclear whether fb.me will be rolled out across the whole platform.
“Also, because the link contains the ID of the video you are going to see, developers can do interesting things like show you thumbnails, embed the video directly, or track how a video is spreading in real-time,” adds Karunamurthy.
If you are interested in chopping letters out of web addresses from YouTube, then just use AutoShare feature from your YouTube account synced with something like Twitter, and the URL will be snipped.