YouTube for Android rolls out default video quality settings and removes ability to tap the seek bar to skip

YouTube for Android rolls out default video quality settings and removes ability to tap the seek bar to skip

YouTube is in the midst of a number of tweaks ranging from the semi-accidental to the deliberate.

Most notably, a change in behavior in the latest Android app has disabled the ability to tap anywhere on the progress bar to advance to that point. Google says that the new behavior is deliberate (via AndroidPolice), bringing Android into line with its iOS opposite number, and is meant to reduce “frustration” caused by accidentally nudging a playing video. Users can still drag the position bar back and forth to manipulate the position of the video.

Q: Why are you changing the seek bar/progress bar/scrubber experience? / I can’t tap to move the seek bar/progress bar/scrubber for some reason.

We heard that a single tap to move the progress bar caused a lot of frustration with accidental taps. Now you can tap, hold, and slide the progress bar — the red dot will track your movement and once you lift your finger, the video will jump to that point in the video.

Some users told us that the latest version of the YouTube app (15.42.36) reverted the change, but we’ve tested that version and it seems to have exactly the same behavior. Given that this appears to be a deliberate change, we can’t imagine that any amount of updating will change this “feature” before The big G is good and ready.


This behavior change comes alongside a much-requested simplification for playback quality in the YouTube mobile app, which has now been refined down to Higher, Data Saver, or Auto (the latter chooses for you). An advanced option will take you into a choice of specific quality levels, ranging from 1080p (FHD) down to 144p, which even dial-up users would find irritating. Although the quality can be controlled on a per-video basis, there’s also a settings page (clearly marked as Beta) which allows you to change the default option for all your watching.

We first spotted evidence for YouTube’s default video quality settings all the way back in March, and Google said this feature was in limited testing back in late June. Now, it appears to finally be rolling out for users, according to AndroidPolice.

Screenshots via AndroidPolice

In a bizarre additional detail, it has emerged (via AndroidPolice) that YouTube is throttling playback of purchased movies to 480p, even if you’ve bought an HD version, but only for those watching via the web interface. It appears to be a temporary issue caused by problems at the back-end, but as of yet, there’s no hint as to when you’ll be able to see your movies on the web in their full glorious resolution once more.

All in all, one of YouTube’s odder days, and it remains to be seen how this will all resolve itself.

Developer: Google LLC
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About author

Chris Merriman
Chris Merriman

I am the UK News Editor at XDA Developers. I’ve been writing about technology for over a decade for the likes of The Inquirer, where I was Associate Editor, Computer Shopper UK, and IT Pro. I’ve also appeared on Sky News, BBC, Al Jazeera and recently left a long-running weekly tech news spot on TalkRadio UK. My love of technology comes from my family who hail from the pioneering days of Silicon Valley - in fact my Grandfather worked on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I’ve been using smartphones (and reading XDA) since the HTC Canary in 2003. I’m also a smart home obsessive. You can find me tweeting as @ChrisTheDJ.

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