YouTube modifies player size on desktop; reception is mixed

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 30, 2018
Internet, Youtube

If you have been to YouTube in the past couple of hours  using a desktop computer you may have noticed that the player size and interface looked different to before. Google has done away with black bars and uses an algorithm to determine the best player size for users who visit the site to play videos.

Google Community Manager Marissa published the news on the official YouTube Help Forum

She writes:

We launched an update to the YouTube video player on desktop – the player now automatically adapts to provide the best viewing experience based on the video’s size (aspect ratio) and your computer’s screen/browser size.

Basically, what YouTube does right now is take the aspect ratio of the video, e.g 16:9 and the size of the browser window into account to create the video player interface.

One of the effects is that there are not any black bars anymore when you watch vertical videos on the site; this is true especially for vertical videos and 4:3 videos. Other video formats may have had their player size changed as well. Videos of the format 16:9 for example use a larger player interface in the updated version.

Note that I ran a quick test in a couple of browsers and not all had the new experience. Google's own browser Chrome and Mozilla Firefox used the new format while Microsoft Edge did not at the time of writing.

One thing that users may notice is that they can't change between normal and wide video player sizes anymore. The option to enable the wider video site appears to have been removed; it is still available in Microsoft Edge but no longer an option in browsers that show the new player interface already.

Take a look at the two following screenshots of the same video. The first shows the new playback interface of YouTube in Mozilla Firefox, the second the old interface in Microsoft Edge.

youtube new player format

youtube old player format

User feedback on the official support forum is mostly critical of the change. YouTube users state that videos do get cut off, that it is not possible anymore to play fullscreen videos, that the default resolution is set to a low resolution automatically, that nothing but the player interface is shown, that low quality videos, e.g. 240p videos are blown up, and that videos get cut if they are not in one of the default player resolutions.

Browser extensions like Iridium may provide options to change the playback interface.One option to overcome the limitation is to watch YouTube on the desktop without using a browser.

Now You: What is your take on the new viewing experience on YouTube?

Related articles

Google making YouTube slower for non-Chromium browsers?


vYouTube modifies player size on desktop; reception is mixed
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vYouTube modifies player size on desktop; reception is mixed
If you have been to YouTube in the past couple of hours  using a desktop computer you may have noticed that the player size looked different to before.
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