YouTube pushes Premium by locking beta features behind paywall

It's no secret that YouTube is very pushy with its Premium subscription promotion, something that involves repeatedly showing users prompts (and sometimes full-page ads) encouraging them to sign up for the premium experience, promising background playback, offline downloads, and a lack of advertisements. Soon after reversing the PiP restriction on iOS 14, YouTube has introduced a new change — experimental features are now only available to users who pay.

Until now, YouTube tests would appear for some users regardless of whether they were Premium subscribers. However, only Premium subscribers will be able to access the experimental features going forward, giving them access to new capabilities before they arrive for everyone else — assuming they get a widespread launch at all, of course.

As first spotted by Android Central, YouTube says Premium subscribers can get exclusive access to certain features from its 'labs.' Assuming you're a paying customer, you can head over to the website and click the 'Try it now' option on available beta features. If you're a free user, you'll instead see a button to sign up for Premium.

Current examples of experimental features available to Premium subscribers include voice search on the web, filtering by topic in more languages, and watching videos with sound and scrubbing support on the Home screen on iOS. Each beta feature is listed with availability dates that show when the tests will disappear.

It's doubtful that access to experimental features will be enough to convince users to sign up for Premium, which is still priced at $11.99/month. Many people have criticized the price as excessive for what it gives users: ad-free playback with offline download and background streaming support, as well as access to YouTube Music Premium...and, of course, now it also includes access to experimental features.