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YouTube’s mobile app will soon better display all video formats, add messaging

On the heels of a major redesign of its desktop site which delivered an overall cleaner look-and-feel and a “dark mode” for nighttime watching, YouTube this week announced it will soon roll out an update to its mobile app, as well. The new app will better support video shot in other formats and orientations, by dynamically adapting its player to whatever video you’re currently watching.

As YouTube explains on its blog, “Who cares if they’re vertical or horizontal? Shot on a mobile phone or DSLR? Square, 4:3 or 16:9?”

The idea is that the software itself should adapt to play the video in the appropriate way, instead of trying to cram differently sized videos into one fixed area of the app because of technical constraints. When this functionality arrives in the weeks ahead, the YouTube player will automatically adjust when you’re watching a vertical, square or horizontal video, says YouTube.

A demo of how this will look is below:

This change is something that’s been necessitated by the shift to mobile and smartphone-shot video, where often people record what they’re seeing while holding the phone vertically – as is most comfortable.

Startups, including Snapchat and others, have capitalized on vertical video. Even Facebook said this year that it would no longer crop vertical video, which made it more like Snapchat. It was inevitable that YouTube would also figure out a way to better display differently shot video, too.

In addition to the updated YouTube Player, the company also said its new sharing feature will become available in Latin America in a couple of weeks, and then roll out throughout the U.S. The option was first introduced last year in Canada, offering a messaging-like experience directly in the YouTube app.