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YouTube’s redesigned TV app focuses on everything but video

There’s still no way to search while watching, but you can buy stuff.

YouTube

YouTube just announced that it’ll be rolling out a redesign for its TV app over the next few weeks. Concrete details are scant, but the streaming platform says the new design will “open the door for a broad range of new experiences such as shopping for your creators’ favorite products.”

Beyond the pivot to shopping, the update should also improve existing features, with easier access to “video descriptions and comments.” To that end, both the descriptions and comment feed will take up a larger amount of room, when selected, with the actual video shrinking in size. YouTube says that users regularly request a smaller video feed and a prioritization of comments. As it stands, the comment feed lays over the video, so this refresh will allow users to engage with comments without covering up the actual content.

I use the YouTube app on my TV every single day, and I want improved search, an easier way to refresh my personal feed and, most importantly, the ability to look for what I want to watch next as the current video plays. You know, just like with a phone. YouTube acknowledges that the push and pull between the TV-based “lean back” experience and the smartphone-adjacent “lean in” experience was at the heart of this redesign, but there’s no mention of anything I just brought up. You will, however, be able to buy a shirt someone is wearing in a video with a simple click of the remote.

YouTube did tease that sports fans will be able to check on live scores without interrupting a video, but didn’t get into the how of it all. We reached out to the the platform and a spokesperson told us it's working on adding the feature but has nothing to announce at this time. It also said that the redesign will make it easier to both see and access video chapters, which should be useful.

It’s worth noting that these updates are for the standard YouTube app for TVs, and not the live-service YouTube TV platform. However, the latter is getting its own update in a few days, with the ability to peruse Views without interrupting live content like sporting events.