YouTube Back In Black

Have you been to YouTube recently? If you have you will have seen the player is now a new colour; the old white/grey slider is history and is replaced by a new sleek black slider. Take a look at the comparison photo below:

But what does this all mean? Is Google just treating our eyes to a fresh new look or is there more to it? Well it is part of Googles new revamped product interfaces to bring all the Google services up to scratch; just in time for the Google+ public launch that is rumoured for the end of this month. So if you like the new black finish, I am sure you will be seeing a lot more of it in the up coming weeks. So is it just the look that has changed, or is it more that a fancy new skin?

I am happy to report, the YouTube stylings is one that offers more than meet's the eye approach. However, nothing is final - yet. As you could imagine with Google, this is just a little experiment, testing the waters before making anything too public. But unlike Google+'s Willy Wonka style hunt for the golden invite, to test out the new YouTube interface you will just have to Click Here and you can live in the beautiful graphite dream.

But before you do, you should know what is waiting for you on the other side. First thing's first - The name. Any guesses?YouTube+ or PlusTube? No, this new development is called "Cosmic Panda". (Umm Yeh, we don't know why either) All we can say for the name is we like the logo for it, who wouldn't love a Panda with a lightsaber? Pure gold.

Cosmic Panda logo

And now on to the real detail into why "Cosmic Panda" should work for everyone. The most notable change is the layout and skin colour. The new black interface is less distracting and in your face as the white was - now you maybe thinking you were never distracted by the white? After using this layout for week, the white background will have you squinting as if you're coming out a mine. You will also find at the bottom of that frame that there are four new icons that let you conveniently change the video frame size. So seamlessly you can now get a larger video size to suit your screen, but best of all the new HTML5 format seems to work well in keeping the stream going without buffering.

It is not just viewing videos that gets improved, but the way we can host the videos is looking clean and easier to edit. There are new page designs and editing tools tat help you make any channel feel like home. A feature I am a big fan of is the ability to keep one video playing while I aimlessly look around YouTube for others or switching between channels or playlists while the video still plays. It seems however you need Google Chrome to feel the whole benefit's of this feature but it is well worth it.

The list of improvements doesn't stop there; the user now has the ability to choose whether you see comments or not, with buttons allowing you to dismiss comments and fill the page below the video player with suggested videos that are each in larger frames. Removing comments pleases me no end, I hate it when the top comment ruins the video or just gives you a preconceived idea of what will happen in the video; so my pages are firmly clicked off the comments! In addition, "Cosmic Panda" makes it easier to edit a channel template, giving users a choice of layouts for creators, bloggers, networks and a general-use template Google calls everything.

The last thing to say really is, what do you think? Check it out and see if the new YouTube is right for you. And if it's not you can just go back to your old ways by changing it back.

Paul Shepherd

I've worked in digital communications for around 15 years, and specialised in social media for the past three. Passionate about new technologies, media, and the impact it has on businesses bottom line, I try to bring that passion to every campaign for every brand we work with.