If you hadn’t noticed, Google updated the YouTube app for iOS in order to add HDR playback support on the iPhone X. The iPhone X’s 5.8-inch OED panel supports HDR, which provides a richer viewing experience. However, the content being played back must have also been shot in HDR. YouTube on the web has had HDR video playback support for quite a while, but the option was missing from its iOS app. With the latest update, that has changed as the HDR playback option will now automatically show up on the iPhone X in supported videos. How can you tell? Tap on the Settings button, and then Quality. This will allow you to change the resolution while playing back an HDR video on your iPhone X.
Why now? Especially since this feature has been available on Android phones for some time. Well, there are a lot of people who use iPhones and other Apple products. If YouTube doesn’t take that seriously, they are potentially missing out on a big chunk of the market. What is the difference? HDR means that you see a wider range of shades, from pure white to pure black. It allows you to see detail that would otherwise be lost in very dark or very bright areas of the image. Colors also display more shades, and viewers generally describe HDR video as having more depth and realism. Bright parts of the image can get much brighter, so the image seems to have more depth. OLED-powered screens are particularly adept at showing HDR.
Is this some kind of competition? Netflix added the tech to iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPad Pro devices last September. To view HDR videos with the YouTube app, simply find a supported video, then tap on it while it’s playing. The HDR capability isn’t stated in the release notes for the latest 13.17 update which only lists “General fixes and stability improvements”.
If you’re unsure of how to spot an HDR video, you’re in luck. YouTube has plenty of great demo material for seeing the improved graphics. Simply search “HDR” and you’ll find videos of exotic scenery, cityscapes, food, animals and other material. Some people’s iPhones switched over to HDR, once they started streaming a video. But you can also tap on the icon with three vertical dots in order to manually enable it. The great thing about HDR is that since it’s about color, brightness, and contrast, as we’ve mentioned, you don’t have to choose 1080p necessarily. HDR is supported in lower resolutions like 480p.
Does this mean anything in terms of competition? Honestly no. But it’s taken a good 8 months for YouTube to add a feature that Netflix added last year. It’s good news for anyone who wants to watch and record high-quality videos. Sure, if you want to watch YouTube TV on your iPhone X, then this will definitely make a difference. But if you’re just casually surfing and watching videos online, this isn’t likely to change your life all that much.