Perhaps one of the most drastic and welcome improvements on the Pixel 2 XL over the previous generation Pixel XL was the switch from a 5.5-inch 16:9 AMOLED display to a bigger, 6-inch 18:9 POLED display, while also keeping screen bezels to a minimum (and offering front facing speakers). However, while taller, “bezel-less” displays are definitely a trend that’s now kicking in full force, mainly thanks to historically trendsetter brands like Samsung and Apple using taller screens on their devices, 16:9 screens are still being used on the majority of Android devices. As such, 18:9 content is still not a priority, and with a majority of YouTube videos using the 16:9 aspect ratio, owners of 18:9 devices like the Pixel 2 XL are stuck watching 16:9 content with black bars on the sides.
According to some users, this is one of those cases where the taller screen—meant for enhanced multimedia consumption—actually feels more like a gimmick over the regular, standard 16:9 display. Google, however, wants users to be able to take full advantage of the extra screen real estate in the Pixel 2 XL even when watching a 16:9 video. It was reported on the /r/GooglePixel subreddit that a YouTube update was pushed out recently on Google Play that lets you pinch to zoom to fill the entire screen during YouTube video playback.
This means that, instead of having black bars on the sides while watching a video on the Pixel 2 XL, you will be able to pinch on the video and have it cover your entire screen. Zooming does have trade-offs, though, mainly that essential video content (like video subtitles) could be potentially cut away during full-screen displaying. You won’t see a portion of the video, but the video will reach all sides of your 18:9 display and its rounded corners.
Pinch to zoom was confirmed to work with the Google Pixel 2 XL, but it’s not clear yet whether it’ll work on other tall-screened devices like the Galaxy S8, the LG G6, the Galaxy Note 8, or the LG V30. If you have a Pixel 2 XL or one of the aforementioned phones, be sure to update the YouTube application (reportedly working on at least YouTube v12.4 and above) and try the new gesture out!