YouTube has long allowed its users to test new features and products before they go live to a wider audience. But in a recent change, YouTube’s latest series of experiments are being limited to those who subscribe to the Premium tier of YouTube’s service. Currently, paid subscribers are the only ones able to test several new product features, including one that allows iOS users to watch YouTube videos directly on the home screen.
This is not the same thing as the Picture-in-Picture option that’s become available to app developers with iOS 14, to be clear. Instead, YouTube says this feature allows users who are scrolling on their YouTube home page to watch videos with the sound on while they scroll through their feed.
Two other experiments are related to search. One lets you filter topics you search for by additional languages, including Spanish, French or Portuguese. The other lets you use voice search to pull up videos when using the Chrome web browser.
None of these tests will be very lengthy, however. Two of the three new experiments wrap up on October 20, 2020 for example. The other wraps on October 27. And they’ve only been live for a few weeks.
In years past, YouTube had allowed all users to try out new features in development from a dedicated site dubbed “TestTube.” In more recent years, however, it began to use the website YouTube.com/new to direct interested users to upcoming features before they rolled out publicly. For example, when YouTube introduced its redesign in 2017, users could visit that same website to opt-in to the preview ahead of its launch.
Now, the site is being used to promote other limited-time tests.
YouTube says the option to test the features was highlighted to Premium subscribers a few weeks ago within the YouTube app. It’s also the first time that YouTube has run an experimentation program tied to the Premium service, we’re told.