August 15, 2014, 6:05 AM —
YouTube is rolling out a new interface designed for TVs. It's supposed to roll out for various game consoles, set-tops boxes and smart TVs, with the Xbox One being its debut platform.
If you've used YouTube on a tablet the new UI will feel pretty familiar. You've got a pop-up nav bar running down the left side and the rest of the screen is dedicated to horizontal rows of video thumbnails.
Here's a promo video to give you a feel for what to expect.
I'm going to be perfectly honest; I don't remember what the Xbox One YouTube app looked like before the update. I'm so used to browsing on a tablet then flinging whatever I find to my Chromecast that I'd be hard pressed to tell you what has changed on the Xbox One's app.
But I did take it for a spin and generally liked what I saw. My one real quibble was that I am subscribed to a lot of YouTube channels and scrolling through the list (in the navigation pane) was pretty slow if I held down the button. To move at a good clip you need to tap-tap-tap to scroll. It'd be nice if they implemented a scheme were the longer you held down a button the faster the thing scrolled.
They also don't document that the A button is used to subscribe/unsubscribe from a channel but I guess most of us will figure that out with just a minute to experimenting.
A new YouTube UI isn't going to change your world or anything, but I can see just leaving the tablet on the table and browsing around directly on the Xbox One from now on. Search is still kind of lousy with a horizontal row of characters that you navigate to and select, one by one. I managed to get the cursor into the search box (by using the right trigger) but couldn't figure a way to open up the Xbox One's virtual keyboard, nor is voice search supported. So there's still work to be done.
Still, this is good console war fodder. The Xbox One is getting its second iteration of a YouTube app before the PS4 gets its first. (Sony says the PS4 will get a dedicated YouTube app in software update 2.0 coming this fall.)
If you're not an Xbox One user and want to see what all the fuss is about, YouTube has a browser-based version you can play around with.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.