In case it wasn’t painfully obvious, Google has a thing for card-based interfaces. So it isn’t too surprising that YouTube annotations — the annoying text overlaying videos — are getting a makeover inspired by Google Now and Android Lollipop’s multitasking menu.
YouTube describes the new aesthetic as a “beautiful” evolution of annotations. The six card types introduced today include templates for merchandise, fundraising, fan funding, and links. The cards work across desktop and mobile. YouTube says cards will eventually replace annotations, but not until they can “do everything annotations can do today, and more.”
Cards, like annotations, can be inserted at any point in a video’s timeline. Opening the transparent, sliding drawer in which they’re contained requires clicking the “i” symbol that appears whenever you hover over the viewing window. Unless you’re watching in portrait mode, in which case cards cover comments and metadata until closed, the same principles carry over to mobile.
The new cards take up more real estate than annotations in some cases, but the presentation is admittedly slicker. The card-revealing animation is particularly evocative of Google’s very best designs, like the transitions in Inbox and Music. Of course, those who’d rather not be bothered can switch off cards entirely through YouTube’s settings dashboard.
YouTube’s front-facing development has noticeably accelerated as of late. Just last October, the site introduced support for 48fps and 60fps footage, crowdfunding, and fan-made subtitles. More recently, YouTube started supporting 360-degree video viewing and uploading.
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