New YouTube Interface, Cosmic Panda, Released to the Public


YouTube didn't want to get left out in a huge week for online video news (Google Plus, Facebook video chat, etc.), so they decided to release an entirely new YouTube interface to anyone who wants to give it a try. It's called Cosmic Panda, and as YouTube says, it's a brand new way to experience videos, playlist, and channels.

YouTube says they've been obsessing lately, night and day, over how the vast amount of videos are presented on the site. Apparently they're a bunch of mad scientists over there, always tinkering and trying out new idea.s And one such experiment with the user interface has impressed the internal team enough to graduate to the level of being a public experiment.

Meet Cosmic Panda:

What is YouTube Cosmic Panda?

Cosmic Panda is a TestTube product, which means it may never become a permanent live feature. According to YouTube, it's all of the following:

  • A new experience for watching videos and playlists
  • More page designs and better editing tools to customize your channel
  • Keep watching when moving between videos, playlists, and channels (Chrome only)
  • Stylish new look and feel

You can become part of the experiment by heading over to the Cosmic Panda page and turning it on. Don't worry, it's easy to switch back to the old YouTube at any time.

I've tried it out, and I must say... it seems pretty cool to me at first glance. The redesign isn't so drastic as to be jarring. A lot of things are still in the same places. But there's definitely been a face-lift, and a healthy dose of the color gray has been liberally added in many shades.

Here's a look at the Cosmic Panda home page:

Again, nothing too drastic in terms of look or location.

It's the video player page where you'll start to see more significant changes:

Down below the video, you'll now see dark toggle buttons for Comments and Suggested Videos. It defaults to Comments view, as usual, but you can click the Suggested Videos button and see this:

Notice the Video Size options in white over on the top right of that screenshot. That's fantastic. Simple icons for one-click size changes.

Let's take a look at the player itself:

This thing is outstanding in my opinion. Simplified and slick. The red chat-balloon icon on the bottom right lets you toggle the video's annotations on and off, and when captions are present, you'll have another little toggle icon for turning those on and off as well. And as you can see, you can still change the video resolution or jump up to full-screen view with the click of a mouse.

There are new design and layout changes to the account-side of YouTube as well; the first screenshot in this article shows the new logged-in interface for members.

What's the Verdict?

What do you think? Have you tried out Cosmic Panda yet? Do you think that's a ridiculous name for a new user interface? Are you one of those YouTubers who hates every new design change and will therefore hate this on principle? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on YouTube's new Cosmic Panda experience in the comments below.

  • Dennis SeriSony

    I actually like this layout much better, and am looking forward to deliver my content on this new interface. Most people hate change.

  • A’Kiyia Glenn-Kelly

    Thank you so much for letting me know I could get my old Channel layout back!
    I so Hatttttted the old way! Thank you so much!

  • Chris Powell

    I think it's alright so far, looking for advice though, has anybody figured out how to turn on shuffle for playlists?

  • Anonymous

    this comes at a price! youtube to mp3 converter is not compatible with this new format!

  • Tristan Bacon

    Still trying to work out how to share videos from the video page.....Actually, just sharing at all seems to be harder with the new UI. Anyone know how?

  • Codie Vincent

    Dude I would never have found out about this, cheers for pointing me in this direction.

  • Lori Williams

    I like the new design from a usability perspective. I'm bummed that it seems to wipe away the custom modules and banners for brand channels. My company just got a brand channel. This makes it a little more challenging to figure out what we should do and how much effort we should invest in design.

  • Mark Robertson

    after looking at it for some time now, it's a mess.... I don't know where to start. The only thing I like, or should say understand, are the subtle design changes, text shadows, darker overall, etc... But everything seems to be in the wrong place. and as Lori Williams commented, it appears that all branding components and custom modules (carousels, etc...) are currently wiped out when you view them in this testtube mode. I bet they'll fix that soon as I would complain. I also am not seeing any ads, oops :-)

    • Julie Perry

      Thus far, I'm not too excited about it. I tried making some changes to a channel description, and none of the changes would save. I'm also disappointed to see that the featured video does not autoplay. After fiddling with it for 20 minutes, I got dizzy and had to opt-out for awhile. I think I'll wait until some of the bugs have been worked out before I give it another go.

    • A’Kiyia Glenn-Kelly

      you can click on the panda link above and it will take
      you back to your old layout! Thank God!
      I did alot of searching online how to get it back and now this
      website helped me out so much!! I just wanted to share that with you!!

  • Tory Bergman

    I'm done with youtube for good if this becomes the permanent layout.

    • A’Kiyia Glenn-Kelly

      you can click on the panda link above and it will take
      you back to your old layout! Thank God!
      I did alot of searching online how to get it back and now this
      website helped me out so much!! I just wanted to share that with you!!

    • Mark Robertson

      Thank you A'Kiyia. BTW - love that name.

    • A’Kiyia Glenn-Kelly


  • Christopher Loehrer

    it screwed up any video that I had in there that was still in standard fornat. Also I cannot find the switches to tell YT to make a specific video the first play video on my channel. I would like to undo for now.

  • Dez Futak

    Simple design, obviously great at enhancing click through rates on ads :) Not sure I'd stick with it though - very hard to navigate around compared to the normal interface.

  • Jamie Snyder

    that's nasty. if this changes, I'm not using youtube NEARLY as much.

  • Jayce Broda

    Oops "much more elegant..."

  • Jayce Broda

    I like it a lot. Much elegant than th current ui.

  • Jay Lichtenberger

    It makes my head hurt. Do you know how many channels I will have to change if and when this takes place. I just want to make videos, I was done with branding. Speaking of which, does this mean I need all new Banners etc?

  • Ronnie Bincer

    Check out the write up on the New YouTube interface (currently in TestTube mode).

  • VideoLeadsOnline

    I have not checked it out yet, but You have inspired me to do so... I am especially interested in the new options for designing your Channel... Earlier options were limited, but I did what I could with them. I even made a template to help people design better with the "old" one.

    I won't hold my breath but if the design options are tre cool, then I'll sure hope it makes it out of the Test Tube and into the real world.

    Thanks ReelSEO for keeping us up to date on so many things!!