YouTube is making it easier to switch between videos by adopting the swipe gesture popularized by Tinder and Instagram. Just one possible problem…
Now mobile users can swipe left to see a new video that seamlessly begins loading.
Developers speaking to Popular Science said the feature has been two years in the making. UX research suggests that swiping is easier for users than tapping. Swiping uses a large area for correct input, while tapping requires precision.
YouTube has been working on the user experience for the app for a while now. In July of 2018, the company revealed a feature referred to internally as ‘flexy watch’. It allows the video player to adapt to a broad range of aspect ratios automatically.
Double-tap to seek came about in 2017 as a way to skip 10 seconds ahead easily.
Swiping videos and increased gesture controls are designed to help users sink more time into watching videos.
70% of YouTube viewers now come from the mobile web, which has led to the focus on better mobile control.
Right now, the new feature is only available to select iOS users. The feature has been in an extended beta test this summer, but maybe rolling out to a broader audience. Android users will have to wait for the feature to appear if it’s successful on iOS.
What this could mean for music videos remains to be seen. The ease of switching between videos may have users exposed to other music through YouTube’s video selection algorithm. It seems like a great way to discover new music of similar tastes, so long as you continually get music videos in the swipe feed.
It will be interesting to compare watched minute stats on videos before this change and after.
Will having instant access to a new video change how long people are willing to watch a video on their device? It could also affect royalty payments if a user is more inclined to swipe away within 30 seconds.
YouTube counts a “view” as someone watching the video for at least 30 seconds. But 30 seconds is an eternity when you have instant access to a new video if you aren’t sure you like the song.
Let’s see how this plays out for artists and rights owners, not to mention advertisers footing the bill.