January 16, 2019
Tinder is probably the first and most famous example of what we all know as ‘the swipe’. Mobile navigation today is all about the swipe, and now even YouTube is joining in. Their latest update will give users a way to navigate between videos.
By swiping, the user jumps to the next recommended video and the feature works in both full-screen horizontal mode and on the vertical video page. Swiping back will go to the previous video and resume play at the last spot instead of playing it from the start.
Something as simple as a swipe may seem like a small improvement, but UX research suggests that the act of swiping requires less energy than tapping, therefore making it a better user experience. And it’s also more accurate. Swiping typically engages a large part of the screen, making it easier to manipulate than a small button that requires you to tap on a very specific part of the screen.
“Swipey watch”, as the new feature got nicknamed internally, has been in development for two years and wasn’t taken lightly. But this isn’t the only recent development the platform’s been working on. In July 2018, the company released “flexy watch”, which enables the user to automatically adapt to a range of aspect ratios, rather than having to fit every video into the 16:9 ratio with black bars on the sides. In 2017, the team launched “double tap to seek,” allowing users to skip 10 seconds with a double tap on the side of the screen.
As the majority of viewers watch YouTube on mobile (mobile views now account for around 70 percent of it’s traffic), it only makes sense that the company is thinking up new mobile features to get people even more hooked. Any friction in the user experience has the potential to drive customers away.
Swipe gestures, however, aren’t always the navigation feature of choice when it comes to other platforms. Last month, Instagram accidentally widely rolled out a test that switched from a scroll feed to a Stories-like swipe feed. Instagram quickly pulled the feature after many users expressed their outrage towards the swipe-style navigation.
YouTube didn’t say when the feature will come out for Android, but iOS users can expect an update to hit their devices sometime this week.