YouTube Updates Leanback Experience with YouTube TV and New UI



When I built my first HTPC 8 or 9 years ago, people who did not understand my geeky tendencies quite so well as my wife would ask me why I would want to hook up my computer to a TV, and it was often difficult to provide an argument that they would find compelling. Of course, that was before YouTube. A couple of years later, whenever someone would pose that same question, all I had to do was fire up YouTube on the big screen. YouTube has experimented with a couple of different 10-foot user interfaces intended to make navigating YouTube easier on the TV as part of a project called YouTube Leanback. Leanback is still there at YouTube, but the future belongs to YouTube TV, a new 10-foot interface at

YouTube TV looks and feels much more like an app on a media streamer device than YouTube Leanback and I would not be surprised to see a YouTube TV app pop up at some point in the Chrome Web Store. It’s not just the look and feel that is more app-like either. YouTube TV offers the option to login to YouTube and control YouTube TV from a mobile device. There are device codes and pairing codes that need to be swapped at different sites, but the process should be familiar to anyone who has ever activated an online service on a device like a Roku or WDTV. So familiar in fact that YouTube TV feels like a test run for the future of YouTube on streaming devices. At this point, the entire experience does seem to be rather insular. In my admittedly limited testing, the account login and device pairing option were only available when using Google Chrome. Firing up YouTube TV in Internet Explorer resulted in far fewer suggested viewing options as well. Also, the device pairing might be limited to Android devices at this point. With only iOS devices to test, I did not have access to the Menu Grid icon that leads to the field for entering the pairing code. Even without the mobile device remote control, YouTube TV is already a compelling upgrade over YouTube Leanback and an intriguing glimpse of the web app future of streaming media.

The new mode, accessible via, allows users to more easily control the YouTube experience from a TV or large monitor.

You control the interface with your keyboard — using the arrow keys to navigate and certain letter keys to access various functions. For example, the “G” key acts as home and “S” acts as search.



  • I think it’s stupid that you

    I think it’s stupid that you can navigate the UI using a keyboard, but you can’t actually type with the letter keys on the keyboard.  You have to use the arrow keys and the OSK.

    I’ll stick to the main site.  Not only does it allow me to use the keyboard (and mouse), but it also offers more capabilities than this version.


  • How can this be integrated in

    How can this be integrated in Windows Media Center? What’s the best way?

  • Ive been using leanback but

    Ive been using leanback but this is much better.
    Chasseur, I used MCS to create a web link and then added it to one of my strips.  I use this method for Hulu, Zinc, blah blah blah.  Not sure why people use plugins when this works perfectly.  The only drawback is that it will not stop current playback, so launch it only when nothing is playing.. Not a big deal

  • Second thetesterman’s

    Second thetesterman’s suggestion to use MCS. It is admittedly a bit trickier using MCS these days, but there are still workarounds for installing it. I like to make entry points to a chrome app shortcut for websites or with IE in Kiosk mode. I have a special category labeled Streaming in WMC and my family has gotten pretty good at remembering to stop media before starting anything from that category, but I have thought before that it would probably be possible to use AutoHotKey to create a script that stops playback before selecting and then mapping it to a special button on the remote specifically for Streaming optins in WMC.

  • Can all the interaction be

    Can all the interaction be done with a MCE remote control?

  • Matthew.I think I may have

    I think I may have gotten lucky with MCS early on since I figured out how it was installed.  I was able to move the app to a seperate folder and then use an mklink to point to the data folder.  Since that time I have formatted several times and never lost MCS nor the data folders that include themes.

    On a seperate subject, I think ( time permitting ) one of these days I will finally create my first plugin/app which will allow users to create discrete MCE shortcuts to any website but also allow higher level controls such as stopping existing playback.  I believe I once saw such an app but it was cumbersum and did not work as I would like it to.  I just need to find the time to do it, hopefully this winter now that I know Win8 is a bust ( as far as MCE is concerned ) and what we got is what we got.

    • Sounds like a great idea for

      Sounds like a great idea for a plugin. There were a couple of plugins floating around at one point for launching things like Hulu Desktop and XBMC. The one that I use for Hulu Desktop is called Hulu Launcher. It stops the playback and minimizes WMC, and then monitors for either Hulu Desktop to be exited before bringing WMC back up and in focus, or watches for the MCE signal, in which case it shuts down Hulu Desktop and then brings WMC back up and in focus. It’s positively seamless. The developer had versions for Zinc and Boxee, and I had reached out to him at one point about creating a version for XBMC. He wasn’t interested, but invited me to use his code as a start to make a version myself. I know he is no longer actively developing Hulu Launcher, but it might be a good place to start.

      • Yes I’ve tried them but in

        Yes I’ve tried them but in the end I just created a custom entry point using MCS  ( less plugins/software on an HTPC is always a plus to me ).  Anyway, as mentioned, the drawback is that U cant stop playback ( although that is an option in MCS it does not work because MCE will not allow it).

        My plan is to write an app that allows the creation of custom entry points, whether a link or an application, and provide higher level functions ( if at all possible ).

        Do U have his code and or know where I can find it ?   As reported on this site, another guy recently wrote a plugin for Youtube lean back and he also has his code open sourced for all of us to use.

  • What I really like about this

    What I really like about this is that it works so well with an MCE remote.