Back in August, YouTube announced a quality upgrade for Premium subscribers. But there was a catch, because it was only available in the iOS app and on the YouTube website. Now, though, it's available to a much bigger audience. This week, YouTube announced that the enhanced bitrate option is now available to subscribers on their Android devices and in the smart TV app too.
There are some new features too. On the best TVs and best tablets, you can now resume a video from where you left off, something that only previously worked if you were moving from the website to your mobile or vice-versa. There are also new, experimental AI features, including a conversational chatbot and auto-generated video comments summaries.
YouTube Premium subscribers based in the US will also find a collection of new promotional offers, including free trials of services such as Game Pass and in-game loot bundles for games such as Genshin Impact.
What is YouTube Premium's enhanced bitrate resolution?
The word resolution is a bit misleading here, because there's no difference in the pixel count between normal 1080p resolution and enhanced bitrate 1080p resolution. What's important here is the bitrate, which is how much data is streamed to make up your picture. Enhanced bitrate streams more data, and that means better quality and smoother performance too. It's not quite up there with 4K resolution but it's noticeably better than normal 1080p, and doesn't require a really high performance connection to deliver its benefits.
As YouTube explains, better bitrates mean that your visuals "look extra crisp and clear, especially for videos with lots of detail and motion". It's very similar to the improvements you get on audio when you move from heavily compressed music to higher quality options such as lossless or hi-res audio. You're basically streaming the same thing, but it's so much better.
You don't need to do anything to enable the new bitrate option either. It'll be on automatically if you're a YouTube Premium subscriber, subject to some simple quality checks (so, for example, if you're connecting on a really bad mobile connection the quality will drop accordingly). If you want to force your app to deliver the enhanced version, you can do that manually in the quality menu.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.