YouTube has steadily introduced new features over the last few years. The main site has added support for increasingly high resolutions, 360-degree videos, and live-streaming. New services like the gaming-centered YouTube Gaming, the ad-free YouTube Red, and the cord-cutting YouTube TV have also expanded or complemented the core service. Now the site has been updated with a new design and--finally--a dark theme for late night viewing.
The refreshed interface is based on the Material Design system Google introduced in 2014. The design language focuses on strong colors, simple icons, and plenty of white space that allows you to focus on a site or app's content instead of its interface. YouTube already followed many of those principles, but the update to Material Design also led to the introduction of a new framework, Polymer, to enable "quicker feature development from here on out."
That first new feature? A long-awaited dark theme. Here's what YouTube said in its blog post about the theme and future Polymer updates:
[T]oday, we are introducing one of the first new features developed on Polymer: Dark Theme. Developed to cut down on glare and let you take in the true colors of the videos you watch, Dark Theme turns your background dark throughout your entire YouTube experience. This is only the beginning -- you can look forward to more powerful new features coming soon!
You can give the new design a whirl by visiting YouTube.com/new and clicking the "try it now" button. Activating the dark theme is as easy as opening the account menu in the top-right corner of the website, selecting "Dark Theme," and clicking the toggle next to "activate dark theme." That's the biggest change to be found in the new site--other changes, such as a larger menu on the left side of the screen, are much more subtle.
Still, it will be interesting to see how YouTube delivers on its promise to use Polymer to introduce more features on a faster timeline. The site has expanded quite a bit in the last few years, but with the continued rise of VR content, growing popularity of esports, and increasing availability of higher resolution displays and HDR support, the world's largest video service probably has a few ideas about how to maintain its relevance.
No matter what, at least we got a dark theme out of it to make finding something to watch late at night significantly less painful.