Google has made a habit out of using its Pixel devices as a testbed of sorts for new Android features that eventually make their way to phones from other manufacturers.
One such feature was YouTube’s pinch-to-zoom gesture that debuted in version 12.40. This neat addition to the app’s playback controls gave Pixel 2 XL users the option to stretch out videos to fill the handset’s elongated screen – and now it’s on its way to other phones too.
Most YouTube videos are optimized to fit a standard 16:9 aspect ratio display. This causes a bit of an issue for the current wave of near bezel-less phones that sport 18:9 screens.
The cumbersome solution had been a pair of two black bars that play either side of 16:9 video content, but with the Pixel 2 XL, Google chose to add the pinch-to-zoom option as a way of eliminating the dead space (as seen in the screenshot above that I took on a Pixel 2 XL while watching a YouTube video).
Up until now, anyone buying an 18:9 phone (or other stretched aspect ratio devices) that wasn’t a Pixel 2 XL had to put up with less intuitive app scaling settings.
Thankfully, as of YouTube version 12.44, other phones will also be supported. The folks over at Android Police have only confirmed that the gesture works on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus or LG V30 after the update, but many more are likely to follow.
For what it’s worth, I tried a few non-bezel-less phones as a quick experiment and had no luck, but make sure to let us know how you get on in the comments. You can download the latest update from the Play Store or, if it isn’t live for you just yet, via an APK Mirror link here.