I’m not much an advocate of many of Google’s services these days (call me jaded), aside from things like Keep, Calendar, Tasks, and so on, mainly because they benefit me as someone who likes to journal and keep life in alignment amidst the chaos. However, one service that Google has done a lot right with is YouTube Premium. Sure, it has its faults, but learning invaluable skills via video tutorials, relaxing with entertaining content, and even listening to music for hundreds of hours per month, it’s the one subscription I can’t seem to cancel.
Yesterday, Team YouTube announced five new features for Premium subscribers to enjoy, and a handful of them are things I’ve been wanting for quite some time on mobile! First up, is video queuing. Previously only available on desktop web browsers, you will now be able to toss a bunch of videos into a temporary playlist so you don’t have to worry about constantly choosing what will play next. With the home feed of YouTube already having so much great content on it, this is going to be a good way to clear up (and stop clogging up) your Watch Later list!
The second feature I’m stoked for is the “Continue Watching” section. Again, this was previously only available on desktop, but now, if I get interrupted in what I’m watching and have to put YouTube down for a few hours, I can come back later and remember which video podcast I was an hour into without having to visit the History section.
Next up is the “Smart Downloads” tool. This is something that was birthed from YouTube Music’s offline mixtapes, I believe. Going forward, while connected to Wi-Fi, YouTube will intelligently select a handful of videos from your library and download them so that you’ll have something to watch when offline. Let’s say you’re on a plane traveling to another state or country – well, now you won’t be bored out of your mind if you forgot to bring a book or download something ahead of time.
While everything discussed today works on Android, iOS, and the web, the next two features are exclusively for iOS members. First, Apple device owners with a YouTube Premium subscription will be able to increase their video quality to 1080p HD with an enhanced bitrate. This means that the video will take full advantage of the display, giving you a more crisp and clear picture, especially when lots of detail and motion is present (like with sports or gaming content). Google says this is also going to be available on the web via an experiment in the near future.
Lastly, do you remember how YouTube videos recently gained the ability to be watched live over Google Meet calls via an activity? Well, iOS users will no longer be left out in the cold with this. However, the feature is being rolled out to work directly in Apple’s FaceTime via SharePlay! This means that a native and collaborative watching experience is going to be available to everyone regardless of their device or provider.
As I said, Google is doing a lot wrong these days, but it’s not an evil company – it just has a lot to figure out. With YouTube Premium, it’s clearly packing in a lot of value and hitting a lot of high points despite the lows in between (like its recent failure to forewarn users of incoming ads). Let me know in the comments if you think it’s missing any features or wish it would do something drastically different. As for me, I’m fairly content with how it’s stacking up across the board, especially with the arrival of native podcasts.