YouTube Music Picks Up an Audio/Video Toggle

Posted on July 19, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Google Play Music, Music + Videos, YouTube Music with 5 Comments

Those hardy souls who are already subscribing to YouTube Music can now instantly switch between audio and music video playback.

“Today, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium subscribers can now make a seamless transition between a song and its music video for uninterrupted listening and watching,” Google’s Brandon Bilinski announced. “[There are] no pauses, no interruptions, just a simple transition that keeps the music flowing.”

If you’re familiar with Google Play Music—which will one day be replaced by YouTube Music, if it ever catches up, feature-wise—you may be curious how this is different from the similar functionality that has long existed in that app and service. After all, Google Play Music subscribers have been able to switch between audio and music video playback, when it’s available, for years.

It appears that the switch is better integrated into the YouTube Music user interface. In Google Play Music, you’ll see a YouTube-like Play button over the album art of a song when a music video is available. But in YouTube Music, there is a prominent SONG/VIDEO toggle right at the top of the Now Playing experience that works globally. In other words, instead of switching to music video playback on a song-by-song basis, now you can toggle it for all playback.

Honestly, I don’t see this all that much in Google Play Music, but even when that “Watch video” Play button does appear, it doesn’t sync. So if you do choose it, YouTube loads and the video plays from the start. It’s not particularly integrated.

In YouTube Music, this feature is indeed integrated, and it syncs the playback perfectly so that you can move between audio (“SONG”) and music video (“VIDEO”) playback modes on the fly. Google says that it has over 5 million official music videos in its catalog. And that it automatically trims introductory nonsense from videos when you playback in audio mode, which I will find quite useful.

You know, maybe this transition won’t be so bad after all.

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