YouTube v13.16 may be preparing “Red” rebrand to “Premium” and urging binge watchers to take a break [APK Teardown]

YouTube may officially hold the crown for different service names, as long as you count the ones that appeared and never seem to launch. When the YouTube Red name first turned up, everybody was rightfully skeptical, but it turned out to be the ultimate replacement for the “Music Key” subscription. In just the last few months, we’ve seen the names PlusPremiere, and Remix pop up, but none have yet to evolve into a final name. Yet another name from the thesaurus is joining the list, but this time, it’s probably serious. Say hello to YouTube Premium.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android’s application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It’s possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it’s officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don’t expect to see these features if you install the apk.

YouTube Premium

Yeah, I’m right there with you… I’m starting to wonder if YouTube is playing a practical joke. Nevertheless, there is a new image in the v13.16 app update, and it leaves no doubt that somebody on YouTube’s team had at least a minute to add some text to a logo.

As a quick follow-up, the YouTube Plus name actually was removed from text in the last version. However, the Premiere logo still remains. That means it’s still in play, right?

All snark aside, it’s actually a pretty safe bet that Premium will turn out to be the new name of whatever comes next from the company. We already know there are plans to merge YouTube Music and Google Play Music; and last month Lyor Cohen, head of YouTube Music, spoke at SXSW and revealed definite plans to launch a new music streaming service. Given the certainty that something is about to launch, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a new name.

It looks like YouTube is preparing to flip the switch and change the official name from Red to Premium.

Does that mean YouTube Premium will be the name for the upcoming “new” music streaming service? Probably not, or at least not directly. After examining the application code, it looks like the logo for the unlimited service is programmed to change from the current YouTube Red image to the Premium image if the name of the service changes. To my eyes, it looks like YouTube is preparing to flip the switch and change the official name from Red to Premium.

At this point it only looks like a name change, and even I’m not seeing enough to declare it a done deal. But I also wouldn’t feel confident until there was promotional text or ads to clearly confirm the change.

Unfortunately, this also doesn’t give any clues about upcoming changes to the actual services offered by YouTube. With a name change often comes changes to the subscription tiers and new features. We’ll still have to wait to learn more about those details.

Anyway, cheers to a new name.

Reminders to take a break

Binge watching has turned from something you should only do when you’re sick to something we brag about when we’re catching up on the latest season of Game of Thrones. But no matter how you spin it, that’s not the healthiest way to consume entertainment unless you’re also mixing in time on the elliptical.

YouTube might be taking a small step to curtail serious binge watching. In the v13.15 update, some new placeholders were added among the strings that caught my attention. They happen to all be empty, but the names are intact, and that was enough to begin looking. The key word for the string names is “bollard.” According to the Wikipedia page, this word is most commonly used to describe rigid posts sticking out of the road to prevent through traffic, but historically was also common in nautical usage to describe a similar post used for mooring boats – i.e. It’s a thing that keeps you in one place and doesn’t let you move. Clever codename.

bollard_setting_dialog_title” />
bollard_setting_title” />
bollard_setting_option_label_never” />

After digging into the code, I found that these lines were used in a class called WatchBreakPreference, and that happened to be in a namespace called wellness. I haven’t spent too long looking at the code, but if the names are any indication, it looks pretty likely that we’re talking about a feature that pop up a dialog to encourage users to take a break from watching. If this is something you won’t like, it looks like it can be turned off so your binging can continue uninterrupted.

There’s not much else to glean from the bits that are available, at least not that I could find in limited time. I have a feeling this will be a useful feature for people that tend to lose track of time, and it would also be useful for children. It’s hard to say if the code is complete yet, but the resources are still placeholders, so it’s pretty likely this isn’t launching quite yet.

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