What you need to know
- YouTube is testing a new 'listening controls' feature that'll make playing music better on its mobile app.
- Previously, the app would prompt users to open the dedicated YouTube Music app when streaming music.
- It's currently only available to YouTube Premium subscribers.
Google is testing out a new feature for the YouTube app that'll make playing music without switching to YouTube Music more elegant. Currently, it's possible to play both music and videos on the YouTube app. While playing music, the app often prompts users to switch to YouTube Music for a dedicated music experience. Not all users may have warmed up to this context switching, so Google's bringing the metaphorical mountain to those customers who refuse to switch.
With this new experience (spotted by 9to5Google), YouTube will now display a different interface for music that's more akin to music streaming apps than it is to a video app. Premium users will see a pause, play, and skip button. You'll also be able to save the song to a playlist or like it (which will see it added to your liked songs playlist, anyway.) It's not an automatic thing, you'll have to flick a "listening controls" switch to trigger this.
It may seem counterintuitive, but there are times you could stumble into a playlist or soundtrack on YouTube proper and not want to have to switch apps. It's not clear whether Google plans to roll this out globally or have it simply as a test, but anything worth doing is worth doing well. Google already knows if you're playing music, they might as well make it look good too.
YouTube Premium currently boasts 30 million subscribers, just under half of Apple Music's estimated 72 million. Even with free trials offered to users who buy the best Android phones, Google's still a bit behind. The more benefits Premium users can accrue over free users, the more Google's chances that this number increases over the coming months.