Back in May, YouTube started testing “Listening controls” that looked to bring a dedicated music player to the main app for Premium subscribers. This UI is now widely rolled out for all videos.
Listening controls replace everything underneath the video window with a sparse sheet. Play/pause, next/previous, and 10-second rewind/forward are the main buttons. There’s also the ability to like (with count), save to playlist (holding down lets you select), and control playback speed. The video title and channel is listed above, while this sheet can be closed from the top-right corner.
When watching music, YouTube suggests that you launch “Listening controls” via a pill over the player window. That said, it can be launched for any video from the overflow menu in the corner. (It appears between the “Playback speed” and “Watch in VR” buttons.)
Once active, Listening controls are persistent and remain even when you switch to a new video from the Home feed, search, etc. While the pill suggests this is for music listening, it’s useful for any form of audio, like podcasts — an area that YouTube is exploring.
Meanwhile, it’s better than having to interact with the myriad of tiny icons in the video window that hide after a few seconds. Lastly, the persistent nature hides the “Up next” feed for a nice clutter-free YouTube watching experience.
Listening controls are available on both Android and iOS for YouTube Premium subscribers. It makes for an interesting (unadvertised) paid perk that appears to have widely rolled out in recent weeks, and available for all US users when we checked today.
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