At the moment, YouTube users only have maximized and zoom-to-fill mode, which stretches the image to fill the screen, simply cropping out the parts that don’t fit.
But what about being able to use the touch interface of your phone or tablet to zoom in on any portion of the video you’re watching. Especially useful for clips uploaded at high resolution (e.g. 4K or 8K), the pinch-to-zoom feature would allow you to see hard-to-read writing on a random object captured in the frame, or any details that might go unnoticed at a cursory glance. Perhaps videos featuring your favourite celebrities will become all the more “tasty” with the new feature, making any YouTuber a potential paparazzi.
For now, the pinch-to-zoom feature is being offered randomly, only to the lucky ones who are already subscribed to the YouTube Premium service, with Google seeing these experiments as a benefit to subscribers, who get priority access to as-yet-unreleased features.
The current testing phase will continue until September 1, with YouTube administrators having a month to gather information and apply final touches before a potential official announcement. Although when it comes to YouTube experiments the full-scale launch is by no means guaranteed, pinch-to-zoom could be the kind of feature that’s requested enough by the platform’s users that launch is virtually guaranteed.
Beyond its usefulness as a tool for seeing those details that the makers of the clip in question might have wanted overlooked, pinch-to-zoom could also function as a customizable version of zoom-to-fill, allowing users to frame the image on their phones’ screens at will. For example, you’ll be able to zoom into the image just enough so that you don’t see people’s heads cropped off, or text displayed on the image.