YouTube is currently experimenting with adding chapters to “a small selection” of videos on Android, iOS, and desktop devices. Instead of finding and clicking on hyperlinked timestamps and song titles in the video description, this new feature incorporates that metadata right into the red progress bar built within the video player. This experiment started in early April, which is when publications like Android Police first wrote about it, but it could be rolling out to more people.
This is welcome news if you, like me, use YouTube as a source for listening to long video game soundtracks and other obscure music that’s not available on Spotify or other major streaming services. It also seems useful for all sorts of content creators who wish to break up their video content into bite-sized chapters.
Timestamps are more important than ever
I found myself totally winning the lottery on this one and was able to access this new chapters feature within a few videos I frequently watch on my home desktop and Android phone. Your mileage may vary, but for me, it worked on a video compilation of chill tunes from the Persona 5 soundtrack as well as an upload of Masayoshi Takanaka’s An Insatiable High, a 1977 album that imbues me with good feelings.
That being said, despite several of my favorite videos having a comprehensive list of timestamps in the description, many of them didn’t have chapters in the video player. Plus, chapters in videos that support the feature didn’t show up when I tried to embed them in this post. It’s a work in progress, so it’s forgivable for now.
To my knowledge, this doesn’t work with playlists comprised of several videos; the experiment seems focused on inserting breaks into longer videos. Perhaps this is a step toward making YouTube’s vast trove of videos, specifically music-focused ones like those above, easier to play track-by-track on YouTube Music. That said, the chapter breaks that I saw on YouTube weren’t yet visible in the YouTube Music app.
Now, I don’t have qualms with navigating to the video description to find a timestamp (thanks to gracious commenters for doing the service), though, admittedly, it’s far easier to scrub between chapters directly through the video. Perhaps my favorite part of the experiment is a small interface touch in the Android app (it wasn’t present in the iOS app when I tried) that fires off a small vibration as you move a finger across the video progress bar to tell you when you’ve passed over the start of a new chapter. This is great if you’re quickly trying to find the beginning of the next song.
I presume that this feature still isn’t available for most people, and it doesn’t work for many of the long album uploads that I enjoy listening to on YouTube. But if you have a minute, it can’t hurt to check your computer and mobile device to see if you can jump around to different chapters in your favorite long videos.