YouTube is getting a dynamic new look, no matter where you watch it
It's been a weird few weeks for YouTube. After a couple of controversial experiments came and went — including changes that would see free users locked out of 4K playback and bludgeoned with ads — Google raised the price on its Premium plans for family subscribers throughout much of the world. Thankfully, today brings a spot of good news to the platform, as YouTube is rolling out a huge UI redesign across mobile devices, smart TVs, and the web that should make watching videos much more enjoyable.
Visually, YouTube's changes focus on some new icons and lighting options. The company calls its new dynamic color sampling "ambient mode," and although it's not a 1:1 recreation of what we've seen from Material You, it's a similar idea. Ambient mode lighting works like those LED backlights you can buy for TVs, mirroring whatever's on screen and illuminating your status bar to deliver a more immersive effect. It's available on the web and on mobile in dark mode — which is also darker than ever. If you're a fan of deep OLED blacks compared to boring grays, this change is for you.
YouTube is also redesigning the litany of buttons that appear below videos. Likes, dislikes, share, download, and subscribe all have a new look, and links in the description now appear as buttons, making them easier to find and click. If you're looking to emulate your favorite vlogger's gear setup, tapping on those Amazon links should offer a much better experience.
The mobile app is also getting a couple of new tools that, before today, were limited to the Premium-exclusive experimental features menu. Pinch to zoom has been a mainstay in apps like Twitch, and today, it's finally live for all users, allowing you to magnify any part of a video as you watch. Precise scrolling is also rolling out, offering a better way to find specific moments in a video. Combined with the most replayed graph YouTube launched earlier this year, finding the right moment in an upload has never been so easy. Precise scrolling isn't just limited to mobile users, as it's also available on the web.
As is usual for a Google product, none of these changes are brand-new — the company loves to test new tools and UI tweaks far ahead of a public launch. If you usually opt to watch new uploads from your favorite creators over whatever new original is blowing up Netflix, though, it should make for a smoother, more immersive experience overall.
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