Compared to most other video players, Google is relatively unique for letting users set the specific playback resolution. YouTube is now testing “Video quality preferences” that simplify the selection.

When tapping quality from a video’s overflow menu, this test no longer presents a list of resolutions from 480p to 1080p (or greater). Rather you’re given four options:

  • Auto (recommended): Adjusts to give you the best experience for your conditions
  • Higher picture quality: Uses more data
  • Data saver: Lower picture quality
  • Advanced: Select a specific resolution

The “Quality for current video” is noted at the very top, while “Advanced” lets you access the previous menu.

However, the clear aim of this redesign is to not inundate users with a list of at least seven options. At that, people are being pushed to “Auto” for the “best experience” as determined by Google in the moment.

Meanwhile, “Higher picture quality” is quite straightforward as is the alternative: “Data saver.” This UI allows YouTube to emphasize data usage if that wasn’t apparent to people. The descriptions are user-friendly, but there was a simplicity to selecting from a list of resolutions that are increasingly a universal concept.

This sheet notes “settings only applies to current video,” while there’s a link to new “Video quality preferences” that affects everything you watch in the app. Here, you can also individually set quality on mobile networks and Wi-Fi. 

YouTube’s new approach to video quality preferences is labeled as a “beta,” and not widely rolled out. These screenshots are from version 15.45.32, which is currently in the beta channel. It’s also not apparent if this is meant to apply worldwide or will initially be regional.

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