The YouTube app on your Roku or Chromecast just got a big upgrade


Summary

  • YouTube is tweaking its TV streaming app to reduce distractions and prioritize simplicity based on user feedback.
  • The revised UI features a dedicated area for details, keeping the video front-and-center to minimize distractions.
  • YouTube’s changes may aim to drive more users to subscribe to Premium, offering benefits like ad-free viewing and offline downloads.



While YouTube may be at the top of the food chain in terms of video streaming platforms, the Google-owned service is still facing its fair share of competition. Many video-based apps and services are finding ways to differentiate themselves through UI. Now, YouTube is shifting its focus to improving its UI, seemingly with the goal of keeping viewers glued to their big screens.


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YouTube has announced that it is tweaking its app on TV streaming devices like Roku and Chromecast to reduce distractions while watching videos. It is making the changes based on user feedback, which suggested that it could benefit from prioritizing “simplicity,” rather than more controls.

In the revised app, you’ll notice that the video you’re watching is still front-and-center, and the playback controls you’re used to haven’t changed. However, when you arrow up to click the video’s title and caption, you’ll see a new UI that makes details a lot easier to digest — the video will now shrink to better accommodate comments, the description, and other details in a dedicated area. In the outgoing UI, this same information was visible in an overlay that obscured the right side of the video, and YouTube has said its goal here is to keep people engaged in the content they’re streaming and minimize distractions.


A GIF of YouTube's new interface


YouTube wants to keep users engaged as it looks to add Premium subscribers

Whether these alterations to the streaming app will be lauded by viewers has yet to be seen. However, it’s possible that YouTube is making such changes in hopes of driving more existing users to subscribe to its premium service. Recently, Google geographically expanded the availability of YouTube Premium — its paid subscription service — to countries including Uganda, Morocco, and Jamaica. One of the biggest perks of YouTube Premium is that members can avoid intrusive advertisements while watching videos. Other benefits include the option to download content for offline viewing and background play support.


If these aren’t enough reasons for you to start paying for the video streaming service, perhaps a bundle will entice you. In 2023, Google started looking for ways to combine its various products and services together to create a single subscription — Google One and Nest Aware were tapped to be paired together in a bundle, for instance. We’ve since seen this roll out to UK users, and access to Fitbit Premium was thrown in as a cherry on top, but such bundles have yet to make their way to customers in the US.



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