YouTube’s tests were previously subscription agnostic.
What you need to know
- You’ll now need to be a YouTube Premium subscriber to beta test features.
- Google previously offered those tests to a randomly selected group of users.
- The company used to test upcoming features like the new Explore tab experience with these chosen few before rolling out to a wider audience.
Before YouTube rolls out some of its features, it sometimes tests them with a small group of users. Like all Google tests, these are often randomly selected. Features like YouTube’s Explore tab, the new mobile comment section, and video chapters made their debut as YouTube experiments before rolling out to everyone. From this month, it seems, Google has quietly changed that. Now, you’ll need pay up as a YouTube Premium subscriber to play.
“For a limited time, Premium members can try out new features that we’re working on. Share your feedback to help us build a better YouTube,” YouTube’s experimental page now reads. You won’t be able to join these experiments anymore if you’re not logged in with a Premium account, instead, the service will ask you sign up for Premium.
It’s not entirely clear why YouTube is choosing to limit these tests to Premium subscribers. Perhaps the company reckons that Premium subscribers are its most engaged customers and ones who are most likely to provide feedback. No one is signing up to YouTube Premium just to take part in experiments, but it’s also possible that the more features placed behind YouTube Premium, the more users would be likely to sign up to the paid service.
As of now, Google is currently testing three new features including voice search on the desktop web. This is currently limited to mobile devices, and it’s nice to see Google finally bringing that over. Another iOS-only feature is the ability to watch a video in its entirety from the YouTube home screen. Finally, Google is testing additional language support for filtered topics. While voice search and language tests seem like they’d be rolled out more widely, the same can’t be said for the home screen viewing experience. Then again, that’s the sort of question Google’s program is built to answer.