The YouTube that exists today is considerably different from the service that launched 12 years ago. Back then, it was a single website that supported a single video format, 320x240 at 4:3 aspect ratio; now, users can access the platform via mobile, games consoles, VR headsets and more, and watch everything from live streaming video in 4K to immersive 3D experiences in 360 degrees.
To represent its growth the service has seen since its inception, YouTube is undergoing its biggest ever brand overhaul, with a new logo, typeface and colour scheme, and a range of major changes planned that will update the look, feel and functionality of its various platforms. The changes are designed to provide a more consistent look and experience across desktop and mobile.
The mobile app is getting a clean new design, with a white header that lets content take the lead, and new Library and Account tabs to help users gain easy access to what they’re looking for. The navigation tabs have been moved to the bottom of the app, so they’re closer to users’ thumbs while browsing.
The app is also introducing gesture controls. Earlier this year, YouTube introduced a feature that enabled users to double tap on the left or right side of a video to fast forward or rewind 10 seconds. That feature is being expanded on with a swiping gesture that will enable users to jump between videos quickly and easily.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the mobile app is that the YouTube player will seamlessly change shape to match the video format you’re watching, whether its horizontal, vertical or square. This means that vertical video shot on mobile will no longer be a smaller picture isolated in large black bars, but will instead take up the whole screen in a vertical format, just like it was shot.
YouTube is also updating its desktop design, which it has been testing for several months and is now rolling out globally. The new look applies the Android material design ethos and style to the site, providing it with a fresh, simple and intuitive user experience that focuses more than ever on content.
“To put it simply, YouTube’s evolved… a lot,” said Neal Mohan, chief product officer. “And we’re not even close to done. Over the last few months we’ve started releasing updates and will continue throughout the rest of the year. We know this is a lot of change, but we want to make clear that there’s one thing that stays the same: YouTube’s mission. We’re here to give people a voice and show them the world – no matter what device they use.”