A Look at YouTube Cosmic Panda – Experimental Design

Have you been using YouTube lately? If so, you definitely should have noticed a new dark video player that was quietly introduced over the past few weeks.

With the current site design, the dark player doesn’t look that great. This is similar to the look of the black Google bar on applications that have not received a Google+ design update. But the player is actually part of a larger design upgrade.

Just like other Google products, YouTube appears to be getting a design upgrade, probably for Google+ as well. This new experimental design, which was first announced on their blog a few days ago,  is called Cosmic Panda.

New Video Page Design

The first thing you will notice is the new video page. The plain white background is replaced by shades of gray.

The video takes center stage at the top with a dark black background. There are buttons to change the video size, with the smallest being the size of the original player on the current design.

YouTube Cosmic Panda

The new video page when accessed from search results (not playlist)

Suggested videos are shown with giant thumbnails on the sidebar. More can be found by clicking Suggested Videos next to the comments button.

If you are using Google Chrome, videos continue to play even if you browse away from the watch page. So you can continue to listen (and watch from a tiny screen) while looking through channels and playlists.

YouTube Google Chrome Watching

In Google Chrome, videos continue to play in a small screen when browsing other channels and playlists


Channels have received a major overhaul as well.

They are separated into three tabs: Featured, Videos, and Community.

The Featured tab shows videos that the user chose to be shown as default, which is usually their most recent uploads. The Videos tab lists all the user’s uploaded videos. The Community tab shows the user’s most recent activity and channel commnents.

Gone is the ability to watch videos directly on the channel without having to load a separate video page.

YouTube Panda Channel

New Channel Design

As with suggested videos, the thumbnails are huge.

When you click on a video from a channel, the video page will have a slider allowing users to browse the channel’s videos. The same applies to playlists.

YouTube Video Watch Page

Video watch page when accessed from a channel. Notice the duplicate description areas.

When you browse to a video from a channel or playlist, the suggested videos are not shown on the sidebar. Instead, the video description is shown. However, as shown in the above screenshot, this may be a bug since there are duplicate description sections and the main one would say “No description available”.


The thumbs up and down for comments have been removed and replaced with Like and Dislike. The Like button is on the left next to the Reply button but the Dislike button is on the right next to the Flag button (both of which only show when you hover over the comment). Rather than displaying the comment’s rating, there is a Facebook-like “# people like this”. I somewhat expected the +1 button.

Comments also have the user’s picture next to them.

YouTube Cosmic Comments

The new comments

To try the new design out, head over to the YouTube Cosmic Panda page and click the Join Now button.

The new design does not feature the black Google navigation bar, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we see start seeing that on YouTube soon.

I really like this new upcoming design. It might take a bit of getting used to, so I’m sure there will be a fair share of people who hate it and want the old one back, just like any design upgrade to any major site.

What do you think of YouTube Cosmic Panda? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Brian is the co-founder of TechAirlines. He is a developer currently focusing on mobile and web development. He is currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University, majoring in Computer Science.

  • Julia

    You’re right, it looked better before. But is it introduced at all countries yet? I can’t see it in Czech Youtube.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      I’m not sure about Czech YouTube since I’m in the US. youtube.cz redirects to youtube.com and displays the regular site for me. The layout isn’t actually rolled out yet as its only an experimental preview right now.