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YouTube Expands Test of Opening the App to the Full-Screen Shorts Feed

I hope you like TikTok’s full-screen, short-form video approach, because you’re about to see a lot more of it.

Much like Stories before it, short-form video is now the key social media trend of focus, with Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest all adding new options to lean into the format. And now, YouTube’s also taking its experiments with short-form video to the next stage.

Last week, we reported that YouTube had launched a new test on iOS, which would see users who regularly engage with Shorts, its take on the TikTok-inspired trend, have their version of YouTube open direct to the Shorts feed, dropping you right into the full-screen, immersive Shorts experience, as opposed to the regular YouTube display.

YouTube Shorts feed

Now, after just a week, YouTube’s already expanding the test.

As reported by TechCrunch:

“[YouTube has] confirmed it’s expanding a recent global test that defaults the YouTube mobile app to open directly in Shorts if the user had previously watched Shorts videos before exiting. The company said the test has been running on iOS only for a small percentage of global users. YouTube now says it’s preparing to expand the experiment to Android, as well.”

That would essentially make Shorts the key focus of the YouTube app for any user that regularly engages with Shorts, or even just exited the app from the Shorts feed, which is a major shift in UI for the platform, and a huge endorsement of the significance of the short-form video shift.

Indeed, YouTube says that Shorts has now surpassed 15 billion daily views, up from 6.5 billion earlier in the year, and has become a key driver of engagement growth in the app, pointing to the increasing demand for short, full-screen clips.

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In this respect, TikTok may well have changed consumer behaviors more broadly, with the immediate, never-ending stream of engaging videos in the app, highly attuned to user interests, keeping people not only hooked to TikTok itself, but also increasing demand for the same on all platforms – which, in some ways, has forced other apps to adapt in line with audience interest.

That’s definitely clear for YouTube, given the rising consumption of Shorts clips, while Meta also notes that Instagram Reels has seen ‘good growth globally’, as it also looks to align with the same behavioral shifts.

Which is why you can likely expect Instagram to be eyeing the expansion of this test at YouTube, with a view to implementing the same on IG.

Which would be an equally significant shift, but given the popularity of the format, it would make sense for Instagram to change its UI to put more focus on Reels, moving away from the traditional feed of regular Instagram posts.

Meta hasn’t definitively said that this is the direction it’s headed, but it has hinted at that next stage.

As per the company’s latest earnings report:

We expect to make significant changes to Instagram and Facebook in the next year to further lean into video and make Reels a more central part of the experience.

Again, if you haven’t dipped your toe into short-form video as yet, it’s probably time start researching, because it looks set to become an even more significant element, in various ways, in 2022, with several apps looking to maximize engagement providing more ways to access these immersive, full-screen feeds of short video clips.

Expect Instagram to make a significant announcement on this sometime soon.

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