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How To Unlock YouTube’s New Ambient Mode For A More Immersive Experience (Or Disable It If You Don’t Like It) « Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

How To Unlock YouTube’s New Ambient Mode For A More Immersive Experience (Or Disable It If You Don’t Like It) « Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

To celebrate YouTube’s 17th birthday, Google has given the app new features, including pinch to zoom, precise search and a darker dark theme. But the highlight is a new cosmetic upgrade called Ambient mode, which makes the viewing experience more immersive. Here’s everything we know about the new background effect.

Released on October 24, 2022, Ambient Mode is an immersive viewing experience that adds “a splash of color” to the background of YouTube’s user interface. It gives videos the appearance of extending beyond the player’s frame, and the effect works on Android, iOS, smart TVs and browsers.

Using dynamic color sampling, Ambient mode introduces a subtle effect so that the app’s background color adapts to the video. We were inspired by the light that screens emit in a darkened room and wanted to recreate the effect so that viewers were drawn right into the content and the video takes an even greater focus on our display page.

— Nate Koechley, UX Director, YouTube
Comparison: A YouTube video with Ambient mode off (left) and on (right).

Step 1: Update YouTube (Optional)

Ambient mode has been rolled out via a server-side YouTube update, so you technically don’t need to update your mobile app unless you haven’t updated it in a while. Still, staying up-to-date ensures that the overall experience works as intended. Of course, this is not necessary for YouTube’s web app.

  • Install or Update YouTube: Android (Free) | iOS (free)
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Step 2: Enable the dark theme

When using the YouTube app on an Android or iOS device, tap your profile icon in the top right corner from the Home, Subscriptions, or Library tab, then navigate to Settings -> General -> Appearance. From the options you can choose:

  • Use device theme: Select this if you want to use your phone’s system-wide dark mode to control YouTube’s dark theme.
  • Dark theme: Select this if you want YouTube to always use the dark theme, regardless of what your phone’s system-wide dark mode is using.
  • Light theme: Ambient mode is not supported on this theme.

When viewing YouTube through your computer browser, click your profile icon in the upper right corner, then open the “Appearance” menu. As on mobile, you have options to turn on the dark theme all the time or have your computer’s dark theme control it automatically.

  • Use device theme: Select this if you want to use your computer’s system-wide dark mode to control YouTube’s dark theme.
  • Dark theme: Select this if you want YouTube to always use the dark theme, regardless of what your computer’s system-wide dark mode is using.
  • Light theme: Ambient mode is not supported on this theme.

Step 3: Watch videos in ambient mode

Select a video to watch and you’ll notice a subtle gradient that matches the video footage spread over the black background surrounding the video player.

Step 4: Turn on/off ambient mode in dark mode

If you want to continue using a dark theme on the YouTube app for Android and iOS, minus the Ambient mode, you can. When playing a video, tap the player to display the control options, then tap the gear icon to open the player settings. In the menu, tap “Ambient Mode” to turn it off. A toast message will confirm the decision. Repeat the action to return to Ambient mode whenever you want.

The action is similar for desktop browsers. Hover your mouse over the player to reveal the gear icon, then click on it to open the player settings. Next, turn the “Ambient Mode” switch on or off.

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Cover image and screenshots by Tommy Palladino/Gadget Hacks

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