YouTube Music got a nifty new feature this week for its Premium subscribers, allowing you to switch seamlessly between audio and video playback without interrupting the flow of a song.
YouTube announced the feature in a blog post (opens in new tab) on July 18, running users through the change – available for Premium subscribers on both the YouTube Music streaming platform and YouTube itself.
- YouTube Music: five things you need to know before signing up
- Want to stream some radio? Check out our Spotify Stations vs Pandora comparison
- Listening on your smartphone? Here are the best in ear headphones to choose from
Paying for a Premium subscription ($11.99 / £9.99 /AU$14.99) already nets you a number of additional perks, such as ad-free music, background play while using other apps, and downloads of 500 songs for offline play.
Now though, if you're listening to one of YouTube Music's five million songs that have a music video, there'll be a 'Video' button you can press to add in some eye-candy – or remove it at your leisure without interrupting playback of the song.
YouTube says it has "perfectly time-matched" tracks to their music videos, including removing a video's introductory sections / preamble when playing audio only.
If you just don't want any videos taking up your YouTube or YouTube Music app, you can also switch them off by default: "To stick to songs 100% of the time, visit your settings and turn off the music video option by toggling 'Don’t play music videos' to the 'on' position."
Every little helps
That's all well and good for YouTube and YouTube Music Premium subscribers, but what about the rest of us?
Despite Google owning the YouTube streaming platform, and pushing its music capabilities quite hard in the previous months – vastly increasing the number of songs you can download for offline play, for one – you'll still find Google Play Music installed by default on Android phones.
We expect YouTube Music to overtake Google's own-brand service at some point, and you can view this latest feature as an attempt to get YouTube Music ready for the takeover – given that Google Play is already able to switch between video and audio, albeit while restarting the song from scratch.
We've also caught wind of a some new design tests, with trials of a relocated search bar in the Android version of the YouTube Music app (via 9to5Google (opens in new tab)). While none of these changes are that major, it's building up to a stronger and more intuitive streaming service in a highly competitive landscape.
Google will need to work on making YouTube a go-to music destination in the vein of Spotify or Apple Music if it hopes to take a substantial share of the market, or at least make it worthy of the throne on Android devices the world over. But integrating music and video in this way is a good start.
- Apple Music vs Spotify: the two biggest music streaming services fight it out