Founded in 2005, YouTube is very much a child of the era when virtually all video had a landscape orientation. But the dawn of the smartphone age gave us scads of tall, portrait-oriented video. And today, YouTube is unveiling plans for a series of updates over the next few months that will include playback of vertical (and square) video without any unslightly black bars.
Other tweaks include a new design with white space at the top rather than a red bar, a revised logo, and gestures in the mobile app that let you swipe to revisit the previous video or view the next one. The ability to slow down and speed up playback, already available in the service’s desktop incarnation, arrives in the mobile app today. At the same time, the desktop version is getting a new design of its own, including a “dark” theme meant for more cinematic video-watching.