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The 5 best new features of this week's YouTube redesign

David Pogue
Tech Critic

This is a big week for YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL). It’s getting a new design and new features—all of which have been in the works, carefully and methodically, for a very long time, and all of which, as far as I’m concerned, are welcome!

There’s a new logo in town.

 

It’s time. As the YouTube blog points out, “When YouTube launched 12 years ago, it was a single website that supported one video format, 320×240 at 4:3 aspect ratio.” 320×240 pixels? Man, that’s not even big enough for the YouTube logo these days.

Which, by the way, is new, along with new fonts and new colors. The logo plays down the TV-ness of the old one, since, you know—who watches TV sets anymore?

On the desktop, you get four juicy new features:

  • The weird Theater Mode button, which never really did much, now does something great. It makes the video fill the screen except for the menu bar and YouTube controls. It’s one stop short of Full Screen, and genuinely useful.
  • No more “Load More” buttons! The Comments scroll forever, loading more comments or videos automatically. Same thing with the thumbnails page.
  • You can now preview a thumbnail by pointing to it without clicking.
  • The new Dark Theme is meant for nighttime viewing so all that white isn’t so blinding. It makes all the white areas of the screen black. To turn it on, click your avatar (your little account icon in the upper-right corner of the screen), click “Dark Theme,” and, in the resulting panel, turn on “Activate Dark Theme.”
Here’s where the Dark Theme switch is hiding.

There are some changes in the phone app, too. The big one: You’ve always been able to control the playback speed of a video on your computer, using the little sprocket menu. But now, finally, you can speed up or slow down playback on the app, too! The trick is to tap the three dots in the upper right, and then hit “Playback Speed.”

In the app, the “Playback speed” control (left) opens up this menu of playback speeds (right).

It’s hard to redesign something as huge and popular as YouTube. But you know what? They’ve done it. Today’s YouTube update is a big bundle of good stuff.

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David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes nontoxic comments in the comments section below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can read all his articles here, or you can sign up to get his columns by email