YouTube on Android gets a Dark Mode and loses the black bars on the web

You'll no longer see a black bar around your YouTube videos.

Kiev, Ukraine - August 25, 2014: Different popular social media icons in a group folder on android smartphone homescreen.

Previously to get a dark mode in the YouTube app for Android required some hacking and in most cases rooting. That appeared to be enabled but required some manual modification to be enabled. Google seems to be finally rolling out this to the YouTube app, although my device is yet to get it.

Enabling a YouTube dark mode brings the Android app in line with both the website and the iOS app that has had such a feature for some time, which will help with those who prefer a darker environment when watching at night for example.

In addition to the dark mode, YouTube is making some changes to the way it displays videos on the web. Typically, the desktop site was designed for 16:9 video, so any other aspect ratio, such as 4:3 or 9:16 for vertical smartphone video, would be padded with black bars. Google is now scrapping these black bars and will instead tailor the video box to take into account the aspect ratio of the video.

We launched an update to the YouTube video player on desktop – the player now automatically adapts to provide the best viewing experience based on the video’s size (aspect ratio) and your computer’s screen/browser size.

For content in 4:3, the picture will be both wider and taller, which will push the title and description further down the page. The vertical video will simply see the black bars replaced with empty space on either side of the content.

Historically, for non wide-screen videos (not 16:9) like vertical and square videos, we would show black bars alongside the video, making the video really small. This update moves away from the need for black bars. We launched this update on mobile awhile back (both Android and iOS) so this change also aligns the desktop and mobile viewing experiences.

While getting rid of the black bars may seem like a positive move, the YouTube Help Forum thread that describes the rationale behind the change and explains the new design seems to be filled with people calling for the layout to be reverted.

Let us know in the comments below – do you like the new YouTube web layout, or do you prefer the black bars?


Our resident Brit, Dan loves to write about anything tech, and has been doing so for a long time, with a personal interest for all things Android. Dan has been associated with some of the tech publications like AndroidAuthority. He loves exploring new gadgets and sharing industry insights on MySmartPrice.