YouTube embraces the darkness with a big upgrade on everything

YouTube's getting a makeover on phones, tablets, computers and smart TVs too

YouTube redesign 2022
(Image credit: Google)

What's the best birthday present for a streaming service that's got everything? A makeover. YouTube's celebrating its 17th birthday this year, and according to user experience director Nate Koechley "we wondered if it was time to give it a small makeover. So we gathered input from thousands of viewers around the world and heard there was a desire for a cleaner, more lively design that better represents what we’re all about."

The result is a pretty significant redesign of the YouTube interface across all kinds of devices including Smart TVs as well as phones, tablets and computers. It's rolling out from today, so here's what to expect.

What's new in the 2022 YouTube redesign?

Some of the improvements are quite subtle. The new Ambient Mode subtly adjusts the background colour of the app to match the video, so for example if the video has  a lot of red in the background then the YouTube app will take a reddish tint. It's not as dramatic as the colour matching in Apple's Safari, which can be a bit jarring; it's a lot more subtle and a lot more effective, I think. Video playlists also get the new colour treatment.

There's also a big update to the dark theme, which is even darker than before. That one's coming to the web, to the mobile app and to smart TVs.

The most important changes are to the actual video player. As Koechley explains, "YouTube links in video descriptions will change to buttons, and frequent actions such as like, share and download, are now formatted to minimize distractions. The subscribe button is also getting a touch up: the new shape and high contrast make it really stand out, and while it’s no longer red, it's easier to find and way more accessible to everyone on both watch pages and channel pages." 

There's also the much-requested pinch to zoom, and much more precise seeking as you scroll through clips. That should prove particularly useful for watching tutorials or reviews where there's one specific bit you want to rewatch.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).