In June, YouTube announced that it was testing simplified video quality settings with some users. We've been looking for an evidence of these settings rolling out for months and couldn't find any until now. They're live for one of our tipsters and come with a much more important feature: default video quality preferences for Wi-Fi and mobile data.
As YouTube pointed out in its mini-announcement, the video quality setting menu has been modified. Instead of granular, but perhaps undecipherable geeky numbers for some users, you get three basic options: Data saver (low quality, probably 144p-480p), Higher picture quality (probably 720p and above), and Auto (YouTube chooses for you). If you know what you're doing, you can go for the fourth Advanced option and pick the exact resolution you want.
These settings are available on a per-video basis, as always, but the good news is you can now set default preferences in the app. No more trusting YouTube to pick anything between Auto or your latest setting (I never understood the logic behind it sometimes doing this or that), and no more using all your data allowance because you forgot to lower the quality.
In the app's settings, a new Video quality preferences menu, clearly labeled as beta, contains two distinct settings for the default quality on mobile networks and on Wi-Fi. You can choose to save data on 4G/5G and still get high quality on Wi-Fi, or the opposite if that works for you, or even force either option in all cases. You could also trust YouTube to choose with the auto setting. But there's no way to pick an exact quality for the whole app, if that's what you were expecting. It's a step in the right direction, though.
This default setting was uncovered by XDA in an app teardown in March. It took seven months to show up live, and even then, this seems to be a very limited server-side test. None of our devices or accounts have it, despite running the latest app versions (APK Mirror). Hopefully, it'll make it out to more users soon, and more platforms too. I'd love to have this on Android TV and web, because not everyone has unlimited bandwidth on Wi-Fi. *coughs in 100GB monthly*