YouTube has begun rolling out a new version of its video player. The new look is designed to promote the video content itself and move the player more into a supporting role.
In a general sense, the interface and controls have been redesigned and cleaned up. Specifically... the big change is the time line ticker, which now actually fades away (into a much tinier version) after a few seconds of video have played. That's something other players have been doing for a while and, in my opinion, something that YouTube was long overdue on instituting. At the same time the progress meter changes, the lower control panel section of the player switches from the standard silver to a softer white as well. Very slick.
The volume knob has also been changed--from an up-and-down version to a new side-to-side interface, meaning it no longer overlaps the actual video content--another overdue change in my book.
All these moves seemed designed to let the video player ease into the background and allow the user to focus on the video itself. And for that reason alone, I love them.
Take a look at comparison screenshots below (I split the second image to give you a view of how the progress bar disappears midway through the video playback).
Additionally, there are some neat features that can be accessed by right clicking on the new player. For example, you can now see the streaming information, take a YouTube speed test, and you can report a playback issue to Google, which takes you to http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/request.py?contact_type=playbackissue.
Anyways, it wasn't very long ago that YouTube released a complete redesign of the player page, creating a cleaner and smoother experience. Now they've updated the player itself as well.
It should be noted that this new player isn't everywhere yet. Embedded videos, for instance, are still using the older version. As are any videos on YouTube that have advertisements. However, the new player will go live for those videos as well sometime in the next few weeks.
It's a bit odd for YouTube to roll out changes this significant without some kind of announcement on their blog. Maybe it's a soft launch for a reason... I certainly don't know. But it's the kind of thing you might normally expect a company to announce and explain up front.
That's now two major design-related overhauls in the last month for YouTube, who is clearly not willing to rest on their laurels as the reigning king of online video. I'm personally a big fan. I think these small changes--which might seem insignificant to most users--are very positive and will achieve their goal of keeping the video content in the spotlight. Of course, I liked the page redesign last month too, and that seems to be a minority opinion... so there are likely those that disagree with me. Where do you stand on the new YouTube video player... positive improvement or unnecessary upheaval?