Google has started rolling out a staged YouTube for Android update, and it's probably the biggest redesign the app has seen yet. We've gotten a hold of the APK with exact version 5.0.21 (the previous version is 4.5.17), and after playing with it for about 30 minutes so far, I can definitively say that it's hugely improved.
The biggest new features I've spotted so far are:
- A brand new card-based UI - the app looks better than ever before. It's like Matias Duarte has reached down from the sky and graced it with his magic touch.
- Previously rumored in-app multitasking that's nothing like we've ever seen before. It really has to be experienced in person, but basically you can make any video you're watching turn into a small window on the bottom right by swiping it down, pressing the down arrow in the top left corner, or simply pressing the Back button.
- You can then navigate the app while the video is playing.
- You bring it back up by dragging or tapping the small window and dismiss it by swiping it sideways.
- The really slick part here is that as you start sliding sideways, the sound volume starts to fade. This is some top-notch UX here.
- Interestingly, the swipe-down gesture works only in portrait mode on phones. On tablets, it's available in both orientations.
- The slide-out navigation has been reworked with the latest hamburger-style guidelines in mind.
- Quick access to history, favorites, playlists, uploads, and watch later right in the slide-out menu.
- You can now search for playlists.
- You no longer need to tap the down arrow on the video page to give thumbs up, thumbs down, or flag.
- The HD and CC toggles have moved from the bottom left edge of the video to the menu.
- The G+ +1 Recommend button seems to be gone from videos.
- Update #1: A brand new app icon.
- Update #2: The landscape UI on 7" tablets is now no longer just full-screen like it is on phones. Say hello to a fully-functional landscape tablet UI.
- Update #3: At last, YouTube now honors the global auto-rotate setting and doesn't flip to landscape if auto-rotate is off. However, there's now a button in the bottom right corner of the video to force the landscape full-screen mode if you want it. I think it's the ideal solution to this previously controversial situation.
- Update #4: The TV Queue UI got updated as well.
Thoughts? I think it looks good. If this app is built on HTML5, then Microsoft doesn't look too good here (re: Microsoft vs. Google on WP8 Youtube app)