Its a limited A/B beta test, for now
The color red is a huge part of YouTube’s brand identity. The video-sharing platform is constantly adding new features and changing its UI across platforms, but Google’s developers often leave the red elements untouched. Hot on the heels of a recent major UI overhaul, YouTube appears to be testing color variations for the video progress bar on its Android app, going for a desaturated look.
For the longest time, the video progress bar on Android, iOS, and desktop has been red, showing progress with a light/dark gray line indicating the duration of the unwatched video. On one of our devices running the latest YouTube beta, we found the app testing a white or gray filler that replaces the standard red one when watching YouTube with dark mode enabled (via 9to5Google).
However, touching the progress bar and interacting with the player controls to jump between sections of a video switches the color back to red. The red progress bar also returns when dark mode is switched off and doesn’t show up in landscape mode because player controls disappear after a few seconds. The colors aren’t changing anywhere else in the app, either — the rest of the YouTube interface is still unabashedly red.
Since we only saw the color change on one Android phone, this could be a limited A/B test for beta testers. We believe Google has no plans of changing its color and visual identity, but this could be a change designed to make the app interface easier on the eyes in low-light conditions, relying on monochrome elements instead of vibrant colors. It could also be a subtle change to avoid the red elements detracting from the beauty of other dynamically themed elements.
If this change will witness a wider rollout is anyone’s best guess.