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YouTube adds in-app direct messaging and sharing features

As noted, it’s not dissimilar to what Instagram has been doing with its own direct messaging features that arrived in December 2013. When users tap the “share” button on a video, they’ll now have the option to send it directly through the YouTube app to their contacts. The share pane shows people you’ve recently chatted with, as well as some suggestions for people to add to your list. When you tap the “add contacts” button, the app asks if you want to pull in people from your phone book or send an invite link.

Sadly, the phone book doesn’t actually show whether or not your contacts are using YouTube; it just pulls up a “add me as a contact on YouTube” message and dumps it into an SMS. It would be a lot more elegant if the app could recognize which of your friends are signed into YouTube and just start the conversation there. That’s the challenge with what YouTube is trying to do here: It’s easy enough to just use the standard Android or iOS sharing pane to drop a video into iMessage or your chat app of choice, but it’s beneficial for YouTube to keep the conversation going on its own platform.

YouTube’s suggested contacts feature makes it a little easier to get started sharing things. With those people, you can send and confirm invites within the app itself, no SMS needed. Google says those suggestions take into account which people you interact with on YouTube and other Google services, which is to say, people that you email or chat with in Hangouts will presumably show up here as well. Regardless of whether you invite someone through SMS or in the app itself, once the invite is accepted you can freely share videos back and forth.