TikTok is testing a new horizontal full screen mode with select users globally, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. Users who have access to the test feature will see a new “full screen” button appear on square or rectangle videos in their feed. Once you click the button, the video will shift into a horizontal full screen mode that takes advantage of all the real estate on your phone.
The test feature marks yet another way that TikTok is steadily inching into YouTube’s territory. Earlier this year, TikTok rolled out the ability for users to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length. The move was seen as a way for TikTok to attract the same sort of longer-form video creators who normally post content on YouTube. With the expansion, creators gained more flexibility to film things like cooking demos, beauty tutorials, educational content, comedy sketches and more, without having to worry too much about the video’s length.
Now that TikTok has been supporting long-form content for a while, it makes sense for the company to enhance the viewing experience for users who are watching these sorts of videos, while also making the creative experience better for creators. Oftentimes creators will add a “turn your phone” message at the start of a video to get users to fully enjoy the content that’s about to play if they recorded a video horizontally. With this feature, creators would no longer have to do that.
Although some people may welcome the test feature and the opportunities that it brings, others may not. TikTok is the app that largely popularized the vertical video scrolling format that other companies were quick to copy, so its users may not exactly be fond of the new full screen mode after being accustomed to the vertical format.
As with any test feature, it’s unknown when or if TikTok plans to release the full screen mode widely to all users. It’s also worth noting that if TikTok does decide to release the feature officially, the final product may look different than the test product.
One way that TikTok could possibly change the feature before an official rollout is by making it more intuitive. You currently have to click the button to switch to full screen mode, but maybe in the future users will just have to turn their phone sideways to watch in full screen, which is something that other apps allow users to do.
The test feature comes at a time when data has shown that kids and teens now spend more time watching TikTok than YouTube. This has been the case since June 2020, when TikTok began to outrank YouTube in terms of the average minutes per day people ages 4 through 18 spent accessing these two competitive video platforms. By enhancing its viewing experience, TikTok is continuing to inch further into YouTube’s territory.
On the other hand, YouTube is also continuing to rival TikTok with Shorts, its TikTok competitor. In September, YouTube announced major changes to its YouTube Partner Program, allowing creators to earn ad revenue on Shorts. Prior to this, no short-form video platform quite figured out how to share ad revenue, which gives Shorts a leg up on the competition.