YouTube's comment sections (and comment sections in general) are typically an unpleasant experience, especially when they're attached to content covering a contentious subject. In what is probably the single best change YouTube's platform will ever see, Google is experimenting with a way of hiding comments in the Android app, moving the peanut gallery's frequently vitriolic and stunningly ignorant keyboard-flailing behind a new button.
XDA's Tushar Mehta sees the new button on his device in India, and says that the majority of the reports they have received about the change are limited to that country, though one of our readers in Australia also claims to have it. (Anecdotally, YouTube seems to be using India more and more as a testing ground for new features like this.)
Left: New Comments button. Right: Prompt to open comments if you scroll down far enough. Both images via XDA.
The new comments button appears between the dislike and share buttons, bumping the "save" button into a new overflow menu above the video description, accessible from the triangle to the right of the video title (visible below). It also appears that if you scroll down far enough to where the comments section used to be, you'll get a prompt to enter the new dedicated comments section.
Left: New overflow menu. Right: Comments section showing scroll up to refresh. Both images via XDA.
When opened, the new comments section itself also behaves a bit differently than the old version. It looks mostly the same, and you can still watch the video while you peruse the thoughts of other viewers, but since you didn't access it by scrolling down, scrolling up serves to refresh comments rather than leave. Instead, there's a new button specifically for closing the comments section, next to the sorting options button.
Given how unpleasant even well-managed comments can get on seemingly innocuous videos, hiding comments behind an additional barrier is sure to make YouTube a slightly more pleasant place. I might resent the extra tap required to add videos to my "Watch Later" playlist, but I can't wait for this feature to come stateside.
- XDA Developers