It feels cinematic: YouTube rolls out a major redesign across mobile and desktop

30 Aug 2017

New YouTube design features a ‘dark theme’ for more cinematic viewing experiences at night. Image: Fer Gregory/Shutterstock

YouTube reveals significant upgrades across desktop and mobile app, including a sleek new logo.

YouTube has unleashed a raft of changes that emphasise Google’s Material Design aesthetic.

The new logo comes with an updated font and a more vibrant red colour, placing an emphasis on the play button.

‘Fast-forward to today, and YouTube lets you watch any combination of SD, HD, 4K, 360, 3D and live video on nearly every device with an internet connection’

It’s the biggest change to the YouTube logo since its debut 12 years ago in 2005, when the company was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. Google acquired YouTube in 2006 for $1.65bn and the latter still pretty much reigns as the second-largest search engine on the planet.

In recent months, YouTube redesigned its desktop site with a cleaner look and a nifty new ‘dark theme’, ideal for night-time viewing.

The desktop redesign introduced last May is now default instead of an opt-in beta.

As well as leveraging Google’s design language, Material Design, the new desktop experience is the result of YouTube being built on top of the open source JavaScript library Polymer, which will make it easier for YouTube to add new features.

The new design – which has more white spaces and room for video thumbnails – articulates the evolution of YouTube over the past 12 years.

Reeling in the years

Desktop evolution.gif

GIF: YouTube

“When YouTube launched 12 years ago, it was a single website that supported one video format, 320 by 240 at 4:3 aspect ratio,” said Neal Mohan, chief product officer at YouTube.

“Fast-forward to today, and YouTube lets you watch any combination of SD, HD, 4K, 360, 3D and live video on nearly every device with an internet connection; from desktops to phones, tablets to TVs, game consoles and even VR headsets.”

The video-sharing giant said that the updated logo and icon are rolling out across desktop and mobile today (30 August) before arriving on other apps and services.

YouTube’s mobile evolution

On the mobile app, navigation tabs have been moved to the bottom to make it easier for users to manage their YouTube experience with their thumbs.

YouTube has also introduced new Library and Account tabs to facilitate better discovery. New features include various playback controls, with gestures.

Mohan explained: “Earlier this year, we introduced a gesture that allows you to double tap on the left or right side of a video to fast-forward or rewind 10 seconds. Give it a try! We already see billions of double taps per day. And I wanted to give you a sneak peek at another gesture I am really excited about. In the coming months, we’ll experiment with a feature that lets you jump between videos with a simple swipe of your hand – just swipe left to watch a previous video or swipe right to watch the next one.”

YouTube has also been experimenting with new ways to display videos.

Mohan said the YouTube player will soon seamlessly change shape to match the video format you are watching, be it vertical, square or horizontal.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years