YouTube facelift brings new social features

Google's video streaming site YouTube has received a major update, bringing not only a new look but improved social interaction and easier navigation.

The facelift changes things around a bit, giving the site a much more toned down look. The background is a slightly more muted grey, making the entire site appear less straining on the eyes if your monitor brightness is a bit too high. Menus have also been tweaked, with a dark grey backdrop contrasting nicely with the new layout. Everything's a little easier to read and the whole look is crisper and cleaner.

The main page is no longer made up of horizontal tracks of videos, but split into a three column system. The left-hand column holds your personal information – if logged in – with subscription, and suggested channels making up the bulk of it. However, here is also where you'll find some of the new social features that Google has implemented. This includes Facebook and Google+ integration, as well as trending topics and videos recommended by friends.

The centre column holds your subscriptions, listing recent activity of those you follow on the site, while the far right column is still for recommendations – giving a taste of familiarity to the overhaul.

This update is the biggest Google has made to the site since buying out the video streaming platform for $1.76 billion half a decade ago. While the search giant has done quite well with advertising on YouTube, Hexus is reporting that this site overhaul is likely to help bring about paid content channels and further integration with Google TV.

Maybe it's the placebo effect of the fresh and relaxing new look, but we couldn't help thinking overhaul appears to have sped things up a bit. Everything feels snappier and load times seem reduced, making for quite a positive update overall.