YouTube adds an adaptive color palette with its “ambient mode”

By 10/24/2022
YouTube adds an adaptive color palette with its “ambient mode”

It’s been a while since YouTube has undergone a full-scale redesign, but the platform does adjust its look and layout options from time to time. The latest of those tweaks adds some new colors to the world’s leading video site thanks to a new “ambient mode.”

Ambient mode is YouTube’s attempt to add “a splash of color” to its look, according to a blog post detailing the platform’s “small makeover.” The goal of the new feature is to match YouTube’s palette with the ambient light emitted by screens — hence the name. As seen in the image above, ambient mode provides a bluish-green tint to videos and playlists that sport those colors. On a redder video, YouTube’s “dynamic color sampling” can choose the right hue for the background.

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, led off the blog post with an opening statement. “When the first YouTube video was uploaded in 2005, YouTube had a search bar and a list of video tags on its homepage. Since then, you could say we’ve gone through some changes,” Mohan wrote. “In this latest installment of our Innovation series, we’re sharing a design update that will make YouTube more modern and bring new features to power the YouTube you know and love.”


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As YouTube makes its visuals more dynamic, it is also making changes to a mode defined by its absence of color. The platform’s dark theme, which we first spotted back in 2017, is getting darker. The primary color of that theme was already close to black, but by dimming the lights even further, YouTube hopes to create a canvas on which its new colors can pop.

The third design tweak outlined in YouTube’s blog post concerns the platform’s media player. Users who watch videos on small mobile screens often want to zoom in, so that they can catch a minute detail in the corner of the frame. On YouTube’s mobile apps, that enhancement is now available. Using the usual “pinch to zoom” gesture, viewers can get a blown-up look at the video they’re watching.

Finally, YouTube let its community in on a new method for seeking through videos. Precise seeking helps viewers hone in on specific thumbnails, so that they can skip to the most relevant part of a video. If you’ve ever struggled to skip to that one cool part of the hour-long podcast episode you’re watching, precise seeking will give you a hand.

YouTube’s redesigns haven’t always been met with rave reviews. This time, however, the platform’s new look is partially optional. While these changes will eventually roll out sitewide, ambient mode can be toggled on and off  — so give it a try if you want to want your YouTube colors to really pop.

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