YouTube is testing a huge upgrade for Android and Google TV

There's good news if you've been waiting for YouTube Premium 1080p

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Earlier this year, YouTube Premium was spotted testing a new tier exclusive to Premium subscribers, delivering enhanced 1080p HD streaming to users with iPhones and Apple TVs. That went official in April for Apple owners, with Google singing the praises of the new 1080 Premium’s enhanced bitrate streaming.

However, this left Google fans with Android TV and Google TV one big question: where on earth was the version for their TVs? 

It turns out that it’s coming, albeit a bit more slowly.

As 9to5google reports, a Reddit user has spotted the 1080p Premium tier on their device after it appears to have been activated accidentally. Another user, this time on Twitter, also showed evidence of it appearing on their Motorola Android phone.

What’s so great about YouTube's 1080p Premium?

According to Google, 1080p Premium makes streaming videos “extra crisp and clear” because it streams at a higher bitrate than YouTube’s existing 1080p streaming.

Announcing the feature on Apple hardware, Google said: “Whether you’re an avid sports fan or locked into the latest gaming videos, this new feature will bring an even deeper visual quality to our members!”

This was initially reported as Google putting 1080p video behind a paywall, but the quality of free Full HD content hasn’t changed. What has is the addition of higher bitrate streaming, which is less lossy than standard streaming – in exactly the same way that a higher quality MP3 sounds better than a lower bitrate one.

If you’re watching a Blu-Ray with 1080p resolution, it’s moving data around at about 40Mbps. But, a standard YouTube stream at 1080p is unlikely to be moving more than a quarter of that data per second, and you can see the results on screen - your streaming video will most likely look more blocky than it does from a Blu-Ray.

This is a bit of a rabbit hole because there’s a whole range of different video formats and codecs to take into account too, but generally speaking if everything else is equal the higher the bitrate the better the quality. So higher bitrate 1080p video will be, as Google says, crisper and clearer.

If the new tier is popping up on Android phones and Android/Google TVs, it seems highly likely that an official launch is imminent. The gap between the 1080p Premium tier being spotted in testing and arriving on Apple TV was only a few weeks, so hopefully Android TV and Google TV users with YouTube Premium subscriptions won’t need to wait much longer for their clips to become extra crispy.

Carrie Marshall

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 more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (