It’s hard to believe, but YouTube just celebrated its 17th birthday. To commemorate the website’s ability to see R-rated movies, YouTube is rolling out a suite of new features and changes to all users over the coming weeks. Here’s what you can expect when the new YouTube hits your devices.
One of the first changes you might notice is ambient mode. This new feature adds a splash of colour to the watch page of a YouTube video based on the colours of whatever you’re watching, inspired by the way light from a screen casts out in a dark room. It’s a subtle but neat effect that refreshes the YouTube binge we’ve been on for nearly two decades.
Note you need to be using YouTube in dark mode in order for Ambient mode to kick in. On mobile, you’ll find the option by tapping your profile icon and choosing Settings > General > Appearance. On desktop, click your profile icon, then choose Appearance.
If you don’t like ambient mode, you can disable it without turning off dark mode completely. Go to Settings > Ambient mode, then turn off the toggle next to Ambient mode. And speaking of dark mode, YouTube has made it even darker. Ambient mode applies to playlists, as well, so you’ll see dynamic previews for videos inside the list.
Another change you’ll likely notice immediately is to the YouTube player. The company has overhauled many of the elements you often interact with: Video links in descriptions are now buttons; buttons such as “like,” “share,” and “download,” now have a minimalist look; and the subscribe button is no longer red, but high contrast, in an effort to guide viewers toward subscribing.
You can also now pinch to zoom on videos on iOS or Android. Whenever you lift your fingers off the screen, the video stays locked into the position you left it in. In addition, there’s “precise seeking”: Drag or swipe up on the display to reveal thumbnails for different sections of the video, allowing you to skip ahead or back to a specific point.
According to YouTube, these features will roll out to all users gradually over the next few weeks. That means you might see them imminently, or they may take a while to hit your account. If you just can’t wait to get your hands on new YouTube features, however, there’s always youtube.com/new. YouTube Premium subscribers can use this site to enable experimental features the company is currently testing. If you pay for YouTube, consider checking out any upcoming features the company has to offer.