Before the New Year’s Ball drops, technology’s top power players made their final push to release some of their biggest platform upgrades to enter 2018 on a high note. From YouTube Remix to Facebook Pre-Roll ads top video platforms dominated this month’s technology headlines with new product releases that are sure to send 2017 out with a bang. Go into the new year on top of your tech game by brushing up on this month’s biggest stories:

YouTube Plans To Take on Spotify and Apple Music With ‘YouTube Remix’

Earlier this month, YouTube unveiled its plans to launch its own paid music streaming service, ‘YouTube Remix’, set to go live in March 2018. ‘YouTube Remix’ will offer its subscribers on-demand music and video streaming, similar to that of Spotify. The move towards streaming is not a new concept for YouTube, in fact, it’s the platform’s third attempt at it. Back in 2011, Google Play Music was Google’s first version of an audio-only service. It was followed by YouTube Music Key in 2014 that gave subscribers ad-free music videos. YouTube Music Key upgraded into today’s version of YouTube Red which allows subscribers to watch any video without advertisements. YouTube hopes that its new ‘YouTube Remix’ service will finally be the answer to this music streaming riddle by offering labels better royalty rates for music rights holders. The platform has already signed long-term agreements with two major music labels, Universal Music Group and Sony Music and hopes to onboard Vevo to include its music videos on ‘YouTube Remix’.

SoundCloud Shifts Towards Content-Discovery In New App Redesign

SoundCloud is entering 2018 with a brand new look for its mobile application that puts an emphasis on discoverability. The fresh SoundCloud app will have a similar layout to Spotify with personalized and recommended playlists to help its users find new SoundCloud talent. For example, the new Hip Hop Supreme playlist will feature the platform’s hottest rap tracks while its New & Hot playlist will spotlight tracks generating buzz around the web. This shift towards discoverability sprung from the fact that even though Soundcloud currently has the world’s biggest archive of user-uploaded music and audio, with over 170 million tracks, it was still lagging behind in the competitive streaming music market. Although 2017 was a rocky year for the platform, it still catapulted the careers of creators like Vydia’s own Lil Pump and Liz Xan, who originally released their content on it. SoundCloud is hoping that its new app will be able to replicate this formula of success. Through its featured playlists and exclusive culture-focused audio content, the SoundCloud redesign aims to showcase its creator’s content before they break into mainstream music. If you want to check out SoundCloud’s fresh look, you can download the app here.

Facebook (Finally) Pushes Pre-Roll Ads

After years of publicly denouncing pre-roll ads, Facebook is finally giving in and will be rolling them out on select videos in 2018. Facebook’s switch to pre-roll ads will be limited in incorporation but will help the platform make payouts to its video creators more sustainable. The pre-roll ads will only occur on original Watch tab videos, not within the News Feed. Additionally, Facebook is putting a strict time limit on the pre-roll ads (a total of six seconds max), unlike YouTube that has some ads over a minute long. In addition to the new pre-roll ads, Facebook will also be making changes to its mid-roll format. Mid-roll ads will no longer appear on videos shorter than three minutes (previously it was 90 seconds) and ad breaks will not show up until after the first minute of video has been watched. Finally, Facebook will be tweaking its News Feed algorithm to boost serialized content. Facebook wants to promote creators and publishers who regularly produce content, showing that creators do not need a viral hit to succeed with video on Facebook.

Snapchat Dives Deeper Into Augmented Reality with Lens Studio

Snapchat has released its second official application, Lens Studio, that lets users design and build AR lenses for Snapchat. AR on Snapchat has already seen significant success, with over 70 million users interacting with the current Lenses feature every day. The new Lens Studio app is available for desktop computers and will closely resemble the internal technology Snapchat uses to produce its own lenses. Any Snapchat user will have access to this application that will feature different templates and guides for designing both 2D and 3D objects. Users can add additional immersive effects, like tapping an object to change its shape or altering the object as the user walks closer to it. Once an effect is created, a unique Snapcode will be generated with an associated link. Once a user taps the link, the lens will be available on Snapchat for the next 24 hours. Users also have the option to share the lense with friends. The Snapcode will be saved and available within the app for additional future use. Currently, Lens Studio will only allow its users to create “world lenses” utilizing the rear-facing Snapchat camera. In the future, Snapchat will allow people to design their own face filters to use. To get started with Studio Lens, download the app here.

Technology transformed 2017 into one of the most inventive years to date and with the new year around the corner, we can expect even bigger and more groundbreaking innovations to come. Don’t miss a beat in technology news in 2018, check back every month for our tech roundups!