You’ve seen it before: A video, filmed by an upright smartphone, is squished between two black rectangles to make it fit into YouTube’s horizontal video player. On a laptop or desktop computer, this compromise is merely annoying; on a mobile device, vertically shot videos can be unbearable to watch.
YouTube has a solution to this problem, at least for Android phones. An update to the YouTube app for Android will detect vertical videos and automatically expand them to fill the phone’s screen.
Other mobile apps, such as Snapchat and Periscope, have made shooting and watching vertical videos the natural user experience; this makes sense, given that smartphones are generally held upright.
During its earnings call last week, Google reported that the average length of a YouTube watch session on mobile is 40 minutes, up 50% from last year. As more and more YouTube users view the site on phones instead of desktops, it is important that the platform adapt to mobile viewing habits.
Here’s hoping YouTube releases this update for iOS soon.