Google is at long last solving what’s perhaps the biggest paint point of its mobile YouTube app by rolling out a dynamic video player via a server-side update which allows the app to automatically adapt to a video’s natural shape and fill up the display.

I love YouTube for iOS, but the viewing experience leaves a lot to be desired.

You may have noticed that the app’s built-in video player annoyingly does not resize automatically based on the orientation of the video being watched. This makes it impossible to enjoy vertical, square and other non-standard video formats without large, unsightly black bars.

Thankfully, the YouTube team is now fixing that glaring omission.

As Google announced on Twitter earlier this week, they’re currently rolling out an update which lets the YouTube player on iOS automatically adapt to a video’s shape.

In other words, if the video you’re watching is vertical, the player will become vertical.

If the video is square, the player will become square. It doesn’t matter if the video was shot on mobile or DSLR, if it’s 4:3 or 16:9—the app will do the right thing and shrink/resize the player to whatever size is needed so that the video fills the screen exactly the way it should.

Additionally, the app’s fullscreen button now comes with a handy icon that dynamically adjusts itself to the shape of the video being watched. If you’re watching a vertical video, just tap the fullscreen button to have it fill up the entire display. The app will use any space remaining below the video to display the description, suggested videos and interactions.

While fullscreen, you can even scroll down to read comments and see recommended videos. As you’re scrolling, the app automatically shrinks the video to the horizontal format.

If you try to upload a 1,920-by-1,080 vertical video to YouTube but the quality wouldn’t go higher than 480p, that’s because availability of HD may take a bit longer (Google’s suggested workaround: post the video as unlisted, then change the privacy setting once HD is available).

As mentioned, Google has made the necessary changes to YouTube’s backend in order to implement this cool adaptive video player without requiring an app update. It’s a staggered release, meaning not all users will gain this new feature at the same time.

For instance, I have yet to spot it on my own devices.

YouTube for iOS is free on App Store.

  • Been waiting for this since it’s announcement!

    • By the way, if you play Apple Support’s tutorial videos in portrait mode, it DOES automatically adapt, even before YouTube tweeted the above tweet.

  • John

    Hasn’t it always done this?

  • Nicholas Oldroyd

    Uhh, I see a giant black bar on the left side, and it’s worse than before as it’s actually cutting into and covering up parts of the actual video…

    • Chris Angel

      Haha loser.

      • Nicholas Oldroyd

        Huh? I’m looking at the pic above, do you not see it?

      • Chris Angel

        What are you talking about? I am also talking about that stupid notch, look at my comment, do you not see it?

      • Nicholas Oldroyd

        You’re an idiot. You edited your comment. It used to say merely: “haha loser” back when I replied with my previous comment which made no sense.

      • Chris Angel

        Stop taking acid and you won’t hellucinate.

  • I will absolutely enjoy watching a video that has a part of it so narutally obstructed by the notch. I mean, everyone loves not seeing the full video, right?

  • Chris Angel

    And when will iOS gain the ability to play youtube in background?

    • Nicholas Oldroyd

      FWIW iOS YouTube app can play video in the background… It has always been able to.

      • Chris Angel

        Yeah in a different universe it can, not in this one. What are you talking about idiot?

      • Nicholas Oldroyd

        It’s pretty clear you don’t even have an iPhone and have no idea what you are talking about. Background audio does work on YouTube for iOS.

      • ticky13

        YouTube Red is the only way to play video in the background. It is one of the main selling features. Regular YouTube on iOS does not.

      • SpideyRules

        You’re just a blatant troll. Move on.