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YouTube Upends Its Mobile Experience with Swiping Navigation

Tech

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YouTube is revamping the mobile experience to drive ease and longer length of use, as well as exposure to new content.

YouTube is swiping right on…well, swiping.

This week, users who update the app will notice new functionality to navigate through watched and recommended videos: swiping. “Previously, YouTube viewers had to active tap to move between videos, both on the site and on the app,” Popular Science noted; but “now, app users can swipe left to see the video they were just watching, and swipe to move to the next recommendation in the queue.”

Ease of use was certainly a motivator in this fundamental shift in the app’s navigation, and the decision to swipe was likely an easy one to make. Given how the motion is familiar to users of dating sites like Tinder and Bumble, as well as with “stories” enabled platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, YouTube seems like a logical additional place to employ the motion.

Incorporating swiping navigation, as well as the relatively new “double tap” to skip forward or back on a video, represents a necessarily more sophisticated understanding of mobile interfaces. 70% of YouTube viewing takes place on mobile now, TechCrunch reports, and the company is responding in kind with a number of improvements to their mobile interface.

Swiping and double tapping join functions like screen time controls, dark mode, in-app video sharing and messaging, all designed to give users more agency over how they experience YouTube on their mobile devices.

But it’s possible the move was one designed to provide a little less agency as well: in addition to exposing viewers to videos, creators, and stories they may not have otherwise found, “YouTube is most likely hoping that it could lead to longer hours spent on the platform, since it feels more natural swiping on a touchscreen display than having to scroll down and tap on the next video to play,” Engadget speculates.

iOS users can expect to see the feature rolled out this week; Android testing has been taking place for the feature since August, but there’s no word on when the feature will deploy for those users.

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