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YouTube is the most popular video sharing website on the Internet. But during its entire existence, not much has changed in its design, apart from a few very minor cosmetic changes here and there. The actual video player still has the same basic controls, so browser extensions such as the free Embed Plus for YouTube step in to fill the void. Embed Plus, a free browser extension for Google Chrome, adds some extra features to the bottom of the standard YouTube video player, as well as offering some free perks to Wordpress blog owners who embed YouTube videos onto their sites.
Probably the most interesting feature is Embed Plus's "React" button, which allows you to find out what comments are being made about that particular video across various web communities. The YouTube comments section is not exactly renowned for its high quality of commenting, so turned-off video viewers may instead wish to check out online reactions on places such as Google Plus, Reddit, and Twitter which may be of a higher standard. All you have to do is click the React button and choose your community. If you don't see your online community included in the list, contact the developer, who is willing to listen to suggestions.
Embed Plus includes a couple of buttons that you would perhaps only normally find on a DVD player – the ability to go backwards and forwards through the "chapters" of the video. This doesn't work for all YouTube videos I tried it on, but for most videos you can make big jumps back and forth through the video, saving you some time if you are trying to aim for a particular time spot.
The "replay" button allows you to repeat a scene (good if you're watching something funny) or looping a scene / looping the entire video (good if you're listening to music).
Embed Plus has also introduced what they call "sweet spot marking". This is where they analyze web discussions about the videos you're watching, find the most popular parts, and then insert visual cues, so you can jump to them and see why everyone else finds them so interesting. Each "sweet spot" is also ranked so you can see which spots are the best ones.
If you are a Wordpress blog owner, Embed Plus also offers you the chance to give your readers a lot more features with embedded YouTube videos. You can add your own annotations, crop the video to just the section you want them to see, "mark" specific times in the video so viewers can see the highlights you want them to see, and of course all the features also offered by the Chrome extension.
Of course many of these features, such as the replay button and the backwards and forwards buttons are ones which YouTube should really be building into their players by default. But in the meantime, while we wait for YouTube to catch up, Embed Plus is a pretty good alternative.
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