YouTube has started testing two new so-called "experiments" across its various platforms: A new sign-in reminder prompt that may appear on the web and TV devices, and a new search bar on Android that replaces the old search icon. It still looks nothing like search bar Google uses for all its other apps, but YouTube's known for sticking with its own entirely different design choices for no good reason.
Left: Old search icon. Right: New search bar.
The search bar change is pretty easy to spot if it's on your device. The YouTube logo in the top left corner is gone (together with your YouTube Premium indicator), and a square search bar replaces it. The old search icon in the top right is also gone.
This is in stark contrast to the top search bar in basically every other redesigned Google app, but it isn't the first time YouTube has insisted on striking its own (arbitrary and entirely different) path when it comes to UI.
As for the new sign-in reminders, we don't know what those might look like just yet — they aren't appearing for us, and Google notes they'll only appear for "a small percentage of people" — but they're seemingly meant to encourage folks to sign in rather than watch and browse content separately from a Google account. Google's framing it as a benefit given that signed-in accounts get access to features like subscriptions and playlists, but I'd bet YouTube would much rather have that info associated with an account for more valuable ad targeting. If you don't want to sign in, the prompt can be easily dismissed, though, and Google is currently gathering feedback for the test in the meantime.
YouTube is also slightly changing the recording and uploading feature it added to the app back in June to include recording speed adjustments and a countdown timer for multi-segment uploads.