Today, YouTube Premium, the $11.99 ad-free version of YouTube, is adding features to attract and keep customers. Most significantly, the subscription plan will now feature higher-quality video for web and iOS users, support for co-watching films on FaceTime using Apple’s SharePlay, and mobile queue controls.
Although many people don’t know what YouTube Premium offers beyond ad removal, the firm hopes the expanded feature set will help them advertise the subscription. The releases follow other recent enhancements, including the option to continue watching films on any device and “smart downloads” that automatically save recommended content for offline viewing. Web users can now utilize this functionality.
While many of these prior features have more discreetly enhanced the YouTube Premium subscription—running in the background where they may go undetected by the end user—newly today’s announced improvements will be front-and-center to the viewing experience.
In the next weeks, YouTube Premium iOS and web users will have a higher bitrate 1080p HD video quality. (As an “experiment” on the web. This is not one of YouTube Premium’s experiments that lets users test new features before release. YouTube says the upgraded 1080p quality level will make sports and gaming videos “particularly sharp and clear,” even though all viewers will have access to 1080p. Adopting this might help YouTube Premium deliver subscribers a “premium” experience rather than merely removing commercials.
Apple SharePlay, unveiled during the 2021 Worldwide Development Conference, is another important innovation. YouTube will restrict co-viewing to paid users, unlike Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and TikTok. As a result, it distinguishes it from rival TikTok, among the first to embrace Apple’s FaceTime co-watching function.
SharePlay now feels more like a pandemic-era solution to link individuals who can’t be together. Netflix never launched its co-viewing service, probably relying on decreased usage when Covid limitations were loosened. So it’s intriguing to see YouTube try to pitch SharePlay as a “perk” rather than regular functionality, especially because Google Meet already allows YouTube co-viewing without the Premium premium for all users. (YouTube states only Premium users may begin in Google Meet, but non-subscribers can observe).
YouTube Premium subscribers now have more queue control. Premium customers may queue videos on phones and tablets starting today. YouTube free users may save videos to playlists, including “Watch Later,” but queuing allows them to choose what to watch next.
Other YouTube Premium features include background play, offline downloads, and YouTube Music Premium.