YouTube brings HDR playback to flagship Android devices

In addition to the HDR support, Google's YouTube has brought variable playback speed support to Android and iOS devices.


Google has upgraded the video streaming experience by adding HDR (high-dynamic-range) playback support to its YouTube app. The new integration is an expansion of the existing HDR video option that was debuted on the desktop in November 2016.

Initially, YouTube is rolling out HDR playback support for a handful of flagship Android devices, including the Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, LG V30 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The development would arrive on other models over time. Across all the compatible smartphones, the feature can be accessed at up to 1440p (QHD) resolution with a frame rate of 60fps. The content needs to be based on VP9 Profile 2 format to deliver a dynamic range greater than that of a standard-dynamic-range (SDR) video.

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HDR is yet to reach mainstream adoption on mobile devices. While the technology was conceived back in the 1990s, quite a few production houses leverage the available developments to provide online HDR content. Apple brought a dedicated HDR mode in its Camera app on iPhone with the release of iOS 4.1 back in September 2010. In 2014, the iPhone lineup even received a third-party app to shoot HDR videos in addition to the default HDR image support.

YouTube has a dedicated HDR playlist that includes 30 videos with high dynamic range. Also, there is a separate channel for 4K videos that include some HDR-quality content.

Variable playback speed

In addition to HDR support on the premium Android devices, Google has brought variable speed playback to mobile devices. This new feature is available intrinsically in the YouTube app on iOS and Android. You can use the new addition to adjust playback speed on your favourite videos.

You can change video playback from quarter speed (0.25x) to double speed (2x) by going into the overflow menu of the player controls. Notably, the adjustments also speed up or slow down the audio to help you jot down some important points from a long lecture or interview on YouTube. It is also helpful to write lyrics of your favourite song or to learn a guitar lesson online.