YouTube adds pinch-to-zoom on mobile as part of its latest redesign

The dark theme is even darker, and ambient mode brings more color to the app.


YouTube is getting a fresh look and some extra features. For one thing, you'll be able to pinch to zoom into a video on the iOS and Android apps. When you remove your fingers, the video will stay zoomed in. That seems like a handy option for everyone who's about to pore over Taylor Swift's new videos to look for Easter eggs. YouTube started testing the pinch-to-zoom feature with Premium users in August, and now it will be available to everyone.

Another feature should help you get to the right part of a video more easily. On desktop and mobile, you'll be able to drag your cursor up or swipe up while scrubbing through a video to view a row of thumbnails (a bit like you might see on Netflix). As YouTube suggests, this should help you avoid rewinding too far back while you're watching a tutorial and want to rewatch a step.

YouTube ambient mode

On the visual front, there's a new ambient mode that tweaks the background color of the app to match the video. YouTube UX director Nate Koechley describes this in a blog post as a subtle effect that takes advantage of dynamic color sampling, with the aim of drawing users' eyes into videos and placing more focus on the content.

Ambient mode will also be available on video playlists. You'll see ambient mode on web and mobile watch pages when you have the dark theme enabled. On that note, dark mode will soon look even darker on the web, mobile and smart TVs.

YouTube ambient mode for playlists

Elsewhere, YouTube links in video descriptions will now be displayed as buttons. The service has reworked common actions such as like, share and download to "minimize distractions" too. Moreover, the subscribe button will have a new look — it will be a pill-shaped button instead of a rectangular one. Although the button will no longer be red, YouTube suggests the high-contrast redesign will help it stand out more on watch pages and channel pages.

YouTube is starting to roll out these changes today. They should be live for everyone within the next few weeks.