Google gave us an update for YouTube a little early this week, bumping the latest version number up to v10.24. Aside from a few bug fixes, which we certainly won't complain about, the changes appear to be mostly cosmetic. A new splash screen appears at launch and quite a few icons have been replaced. On the surface, this update doesn't seem to deliver any new functionality, but a teardown reveals some hints about what may be coming in YouTube's future.
Left: old version. Right: new version.
Many of the icons throughout YouTube have been slightly modified or replaced entirely. This is most noticeable in the navigation drawer where both Uploads and Notifications have new versions. Strangely, the History icon and both of the new icons have taken on a slightly lighter shade of gray that looks a bit out of place against the darker icons of Watch Later and My Subscriptions.
My apologies to those of us with OCD. Now that you know the icon colors don't match, you won't be able to un-see it. We'll all just have to suffer together.
Many people have also been taking notice of Google's recent about-face regarding splash screens. While the practice used to be frowned upon, a recent change to the Material Design spec declared that Launch screens are acceptable for apps that take too long to display content at startup. Drive was the first app to receive this treatment, followed shortly thereafter by Maps. Now that YouTube has joined the ranks, a number of people have already mentioned that it feels much snappier.
The "New UI" Is Probably Rolling Out To Everyone
Google began experimenting with a new tab-based UI in YouTube back in March. It was only activated for a small audience in the beginning, but we've heard many times that it's showing up for more people every few weeks. Judging by some new tutorial text appearing in the latest version, we can probably expect to see it going into wide release fairly soon.
<string name="startup_promo_activity_title">New navigation</string>
<string name="startup_promo_activity_description">A simpler way to watch</string>
<string name="subs_tab_tutorial_description">New videos from your subscriptions</string>
<string name="account_tab_tutorial_description">Your playlists, uploads and history</string>
<string name="subs_channel_tutorial_description">A list of all your channels</string>
The descriptions in the bottom three strings certainly seem to match up with the tab arrangement for the new UI. Of course, I'm just making an educated guess, but if Google is creating a tutorial screen, it probably means the new UI is here to stay. Judging by many of the comments we've seen here on Android Police, it's not the most popular direction for YouTube. On the other hand, the old layout wasn't working out that well, so maybe cutting it free will open up some time to continue improving the tab-oriented approach. Fingers crossed?
The tutorial is live for some people
A few reports have come in to let us know some people have seen this tutorial, so it seems to be live. – Thanks, Fedor von Bock.
For those who haven't seen the new UI in its full glory, this video shows most of what to expect:
I'm not going to beat around the bush with this one. I'm not sure what it is or if it's actually new, but there's something called "Fusion" that just received a bit of forward motion. The codename isn't new, having appeared in 3 layout files in the past. However, there is a new layout called fusion_account_channel and a new image named fusion_welcome containing a compass positioned at the top left of a bright red background.
The existing layouts look a lot like the account chooser dropdown in YouTube. It seems possible that the new layout, which references Channels, grants some method for looking at or working with multiple YouTube channels. However, how the image relates to this or how it will work are complete mysteries to me. I'll merely encourage people to speculate wildly, because the clues aren't readily available to give any more context than this.
The Fusion image is just part of the Tutorial
It turns out that the Fusion image is the first image in the Tutorial screen. So, it looks like everything I turned up is only visible to people with the new UI. This is the part of A/B testing that can be frustrating, since there's no way to tell what people with another version of the test are actually looking at.
YouTube went through a Material refresh back in December, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to squeeze in a few more things from the Material Design spec. A brand new image named ic_fab_upload suggests that the Upload screen is about to acquire a FAB (Floating Action Button).
Note, the original image is just the white icon on a transparent background, so I've taken the liberty of assuming the background will be drawn in YouTube's branded shade of red.
There's not much to say about this if it happens, since it just serves to relocate the current upload button from the action bar at the top-right of the screen to a FAB in the lower-right. It's a possible change to the look of a screen, that's about it. We'll see if it actually ends up happening.
The FAB is also live
It turns out the FAB is also live. It appears in the Account tab in the top third of the screen on the right side. – Thanks, Fedor von Bock.
A Couple New Images
No new or special features here, but a couple of new background images turned up and I thought some people might like to see them. The names make their purposes pretty obvious, so I won't waste any time explaining them.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.