Google has decided to give the standard YouTube app for Android a much-needed update, and this time it goes well beyond simple bug fixes and optimizations. No, this time Google has gone all-out and has given us a brand new app experience, complete with a revamped UI, new features and some upgraded options. The update is still being slowly rolled out, but it’s already possible to see that some major strides have been made with this app. Curious to see what’s new? Well, come with us as we take a look into what this new update is all about!
First of all, the UI has been completely revamped when compared to the old app. It follows the much-loved “cards” style, made famous by Google Now and increasingly adopted by Google on their mobile apps, like Maps, which we took a crack at a month or so ago. YouTube adopts this new style, however in terms of functionality it brings nothing new to the table, not allowing for example to swipe cards away or long press them for additional options. It seems that it was implemented just to look pretty so far, but maybe new functionality is on the way:
Pressing the three dotted button also allows you to instantly add videos to the “watch later” playlist:
Swiping from the left edge brings forth the classic navigation sidebar, allowing you to instantly access your favorites, playlists and uploads with a simple tap. It works just like the old one. Unfortunately, just like the old one, it also defaults to the “What to watch” screen when you start the app, and it offers you no option to change that:
The in-video interface has also been completely revamped, using a style now more similar to the site itself. No longer do you have to swipe between screens at the bottom to swipe through information, everything is now on a single section just below the video, including comments, rating and related videos:
You can also tap the little arrow next to the video title to expand the video description and see more details:
You may notice a new array of icons in the video interface, and there is indeed some new stuff in there. Tapping the “two-arrow” bottom right icon expands the video to fullscreen in landscape orientation. The thee-dotted icon allows you to toggle in-video settings, like captions and quality:
Then, you have the classic “share” icon, allowing you to interact with the video using your other apps, and the plus icon allows you to add the video to your favorites or a playlist:
The final icon, that down-pointing arrow, enables one of the biggest functionality changes in the app. Tapping it minimizes the video to a small window on the bottom right section and allows you to browse the app as normal while the video plays on the background. No longer will the video stop playing when you leave that screen, now you can have it playing as you browse for other stuff or read in the background:
To get back to the video, all you have to do is tap the little window and you’ll be taken back to the video screen. You can also tap and hold the window and drag it to increase or reduce the size. Swiping the window also makes the video go away. This is brand new functionality, and something that actually improves the app experience in a major way. Switching the phone to landscape orientation allows you, as expected, to see the video in fullscreen. All the previously mentioned controls are still there, and it allows you to minimize the video to the background as well:
Browsing through the app in landscape is also possible, with the content adapting to the new landscape orientation:
There’s not much else new in the Settings. It retains pretty much all the old options with some retooled stuff for smart TV’s and Chromecast, but all the classic options are there:
So, that’s pretty much all that’s new with the YouTube app update. I think it has been a much-needed overhaul of one of the most popular apps for Android, and for a product made by Google, the official app had been in a pretty sorry state for a while now. This app shakes things around and makes a few notable changes that set a good foundation for the future. Unfortunately, some stuff is still not quite there, and some features that people have been wanting for years, like playing the video audio on the background even when you exit the app, or when the phone is locked, have still not been implemented. Hopefully, Google will keep fleshing out the new functionality and perhaps add these features in a future update. For now though, the app is a very nice improvement over what was there before. What do you think of the new YouTube update? Let us know in the comment section below!