SWIPE Your Way Through Your Favorite Tunes: YouTube Music's Latest iOS Update

YouTube Music continues to innovate to improve the user experience for its streaming services. This month, it changed how one interacts with the service on iOS by adding this feature, which could have a profound impact on how we listen to music. Let’s dig into the meat of the YouTube Music iOS update and see how it makes the world an easier melody with a swipe.

TAP Into the Rhythm with a Swipe

There was a time when listening to your music was about choosing tracks from your library and dealing with the frustrating experience of tapping one button to stop the song and then tapping another to select the next one. The experience was so terrible, in fact, that many people have stopped listening to their own music in favour of services that automate the process and reduce butts from being pushed to webpages from their browsers. Now, YouTube Music is about to make the experience of listening to your music collection a fun way to dance between archive entries. As of version 7.04 of the YouTube Music app, available now on the App Store for iPhone and iPad, users can swipe left or right on the album artwork to move to the next or previous track in the playlist. It’s difficult to write about the experience of listening to your own music without getting a bit precious about it, so I won’t. But it is undeniably an antiquated kind of chore to pull up your music library and list the tracks. YouTube Music’s small interface innovation turns this chore into a sublimely interactive performance.

Why SWITCH to Swipe?

It’s only a design detail, sure, but the inclusion of swipe on YouTube Music’s iOS app is an intentional augmentation of the experience, not an arbitrary decision. First of all, the touch target for swiping is significantly larger than the taps at the bottom of the screen, which makes swiping an easier and safer choice when you’re out and about. It also helps that swipe is a ubiquitous gesture on music streaming apps and across many types of apps in general.

TAPPING Into the Past: The Gradient Redesign

Importantly, the swipe is tied to the redesign of the gradient on the YouTube Music Now Playing page, which looked similarly to the current swipe until shortly before its implementation. The redesigns were part of a long-term process to modernise and improve the app’s look and feel. While many of the visual design and animations improved the app’s appearance, some features – such as the swipe – had to wait for the redesigns to initially obtain the screen real estate.

Expanding Horizons: SWIPE Beyond the Screen

The ability to skip songs with a swipe builds on swipe gestures that YouTube Music instituted at the time with the release of a new YouTube Music app last June (2018). The permanent miniplayer is a design innovation that has been in use in YouTube Music for over a year now, setting a pattern that will likely extend to other interactive gestures.

More Than Just Music: Latest Features and Setbacks

But while the swipe-to-queue gesture might have the spotlight, our continued usage of YouTube Music suggests a larger vision for a full-featured, pleasant music listening experience emerged with its recent updates. YouTube Music’s latest updates include a ‘disconnect’ button in the Cast menu, improvements to the web app’s memory of your last-played song and queue, and more. Not all of those leaps forward are without their issues – the YouTube Music app recently hit the brakes on its rollout of ‘Hum to Search’ song-finding (it was the main feature of a recent app update, and arrived as a separate feature from the feature-filled web app). There might be something to be said about being too reactive to the competitive music ecosystem, on top of other innovations in the service, which might help explain the delay of the feature on the quarterly music recap (see above for what it was supposed to be).

BEYOND THE SWIPE: The Appeal of YouTube Music

The fact that there are so many updates that are released each and every day is a strong testament to YouTube Music’s commitment to being responsive to the needs and preferences of its user community. By incorporating gestures such as the swipe, and by improving the overall UX design of the YouTube Music platform, the company is showing it wants to connect with its music-loving community and their actual experiences of listening to music, wherever they are, around the world.

Stay Tuned: What's Next for YouTube Music

As YouTube Music keeps improving on its copy-and-paste, one can only wonder where it will go from here, what adapted practices from the video domain will they explore and what tools will they develop for listening.

CONCLUSION: The Symphony of Swipe

To sum up, YouTube Music’s turn towards iOS users to incorporate the swipe gesture is indicative of a crucial phenomenon to proceed on the pattern of the interactive design and highly usable user-oriented design principle. By leveraging the universal role of the swipe gesture to the digital navigation facilitation in the world now, it is not just sorely needed, it also enforces its role as an innovative trailblazer in the music streaming service market.

TAP Into the World of YouTube Music

But even that: piano as buttons -> piano as swipes through songs is a distillation of how YouTube Music has edited itself for better interactions and user satisfaction over the years. As we tap, or rather swipe, the millions of heartbeats away, YouTube Music is a leading tuning fork for the way we listen to music, share music and connect through music, in the digital age. From one update to another, YouTube Music taps and sways to the rhythm of the changing musicality of millions.

Jun 09, 2024
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