What just happened? Many users are likely frustrated with YouTube's recent aggressive push against ad blockers and its ad-free subscription price hike. These decisions appear to be small parts of a significant refresh that the platform is currently rolling out, which adds numerous features for a smoother playback experience.
Google has announced the rollout of over three dozen new features beginning this week. The most notable additions should make playback, seeking, search, and other functions easier across mobile devices, PCs, and smart TVs.
One upcoming feature gives viewers quicker access to faster playback. Instead of accessing a dropdown menu, full-screen or portrait mode offers fast forward at double speed by clicking and holding anywhere on the screen. Playback will return to normal as soon as the user lets go.
A new seek function displays larger thumbnails, making specific sections of videos more visible. Returning the cursor to its original position produces a haptic vibration so viewers can quickly return to where they left off.
A mobile feature called "Stable Volume" will minimize sudden volume changes to prevent ear damage when watching with headphones. The function is accessible in the settings menu under "Additional Settings."
Mobile viewers can now lock the screen to prevent interruptions or accidental taps by tapping "Screen Lock" in the settings menu. YouTube will make exceptions for certain ads and in-app notifications.
The platform will also add a Shazam-like music search, allowing users to find songs on YouTube Music by playing, singing, or humming the tune. The feature will debut on Android devices and come to other platforms later.
Across all devices, YouTube is consolidating the library and account sections. The new "You" tab, replacing the library tab, contains a user's history, playlists, downloads, purchases, and account information.
Furthermore, interactions with creators receive new animations for a flashier experience. When someone in a video says something related to the platform, like the usual "like and subscribe," the corresponding buttons will glow, triggering a celebration sequence when users click them. The company is likely aiming for an experience similar to viewer interactions on Twitch.
YouTube is also replacing the static comment rankings with a dynamic system that rotates through the most liked posts to give viewers and creators a more comprehensive look at feedback. The company said many more features are coming without elaborating on them.
It's unclear whether this significant update will soften the blow of increased YouTube premium prices as the platform aggressively pursues Adblock users.