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YouTube makes it easier to save on data with new video resolution options

‘Higher picture quality’ and ‘data saver’ settings

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The YouTube mobile app for iOS and Android now has new video settings that might make it a bit easier to save on data while watching video on the go (via MacRumors). Along with specific resolutions in the video player, you can now toggle between three separate modes that either favor video quality, data use, or whatever works best for your current internet connection.

You might already be familiar with “auto” mode as the default setting for most videos, which automatically adjusts video resolution depending on your current internet speed to give the best experience. YouTube’s new additions are the “higher picture quality” mode, which uses more data when not on Wi-Fi and defaults to 720p, and a “data saver” mode that maxes out at 480p.

YouTube’s new video settings include options for “higher picture quality” and “data saver.”

While these umbrella modes are good for quick scenario-specific adjustments to resolution, you can still dig in and get granular with specific resolutions. And any resolution adjustments can be set for the specific video you’re watching or system-wide for everything you watch, with specific behaviors for Wi-Fi and mobile networks. YouTube has had resolution settings and ways to keep the app from downloading / streaming HD videos for a while, but this automates the data-saving process and reframes it in a way that’s easier to understand.

Video settings can also be applied system-wide, with separate behavior for mobile and Wi-Fi.

In an ideal world, none of this would matter and you could just watch high-resolution cooking videos (my preferred YouTube zone-out material of choice) to your heart’s content. But even on “unlimited” plans, most mobile carriers still cap video resolution at 480p. Videos watched at higher resolutions typically count against some kind of premium data allotment or other terrible carrier jargon and hit you where it hurts — in your monthly bill.

YouTube’s new video settings aren’t a magic bullet solution, but they make it easier to switch to a carrier-acceptable resolution without having to think about it. And when all my brain wants is ASMR donut videos, that certainly helps.