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YouView 2.0 Update: What's new and why should you care?



YouView next-gen update: YouView has just had a massive software update intended to take the fight to rival smart TV services like Sky and Virgin. Is it any good? We went eyes-on with the new-look YouView and these are our first impressions.

YouView was the first hybrid over-the-air/internet delivered TV service to launch in the UK. What Freeview Play has only just started to do, YouView was pioneering back in 2012, and as its rivals play catch-up, YouView is in the process of rolling out a massive update that fundamentally changes the look and feel of its service.

Just how different is the new interface, and how does the refresh compare with rival smart TV platforms like Sky and Virgin?

I had an early eyes-on with the latest version of YouView, and quickly discovered that the new look brings with it plenty of fresh functionality. Here's everything you need to know.

Related: Virgin V6 set-top box review

YouView is moving to the cloud

YouView 2.0 is cloud-based, which has big implications for content and recordings, not least the fact that it’ll allow you to view your stuff on mobile devices.

While this multi-platform approach remains a work in progress, it’s not a stretch to imagine a YouView app that allows you to watch your recordings while out and about – the trick being that your programmes are streamed directly from the cloud rather than a physical library.

How will this work?

Data about what was recorded always used to reside in the box, but by moving it to the cloud, both your box and recordings list become identifiable on the go.

TalkTalk and BT viewers will be able to programme their boxes via dedicated TV apps, enabling them to set reminders and recordings from their phones.

YouView also says that it'll be able to implement updates more smoothly. It promises to drop in extra features and crush bugs every two weeks or so, claiming that the user won't be aware of these tweaks thanks to the new cloud infrastructure.

Beneath the bonnet, there’s a new code of practice as well. The next-gen YouView UI is rendered in HTML 5, rather than Adobe Flash, and I noticed lots of cute visual refinements (such as transparencies and animations) in my time with the new platform. These can be switched off if viewers want to improve basic legibility.

Related: What is YouView? A complete guide

YouView Next Generation 11

Every YouView box is being upgraded

Designed with the mantra ‘no box left behind’, the update will be applied to every YouView box out there, regardless of age – that's approximately 2.5 million homes set to get the upgrade.

The only likely exception is Sony's smart TVs, as YouView says it is in discussions with the Japanese TV maker to ensure the update doesn't interfere with any existing library recordings or purchased content.

The version I had access to was running on a standard Humax set-top box, with no extra pay-TV bells or whistles. My fears that the update might slow down the older hardware proved unfounded, and during my early audition I was nipping around the menus as fast as my fingers could punch buttons.

Related: Sky Q review

YouView Next Generation 3

Learning from the best

The first thing you might notice about the new YouView user interface is the wholesale use of TV images.

The UX is now largely focused on a 'mini guide' in the lower third of the screen, where you can cycle between a few different options: On Now, Player & Apps, MyTV (the new name for My View, aka your recordings library) and Settings. It's not unlike the brilliant LG webOS smart TV system.

In MyTV, for instance, there are pictures for every item of recorded content, complete with a little Play symbol – it's hardly revolutionary, but a nice intuitive touch.

The TV programme guide itself is the one element of the YouView experience which hasn’t been altered. Core functionality like the roll-back EPG and Recommendations are unchanged, which is no bad thing.

The new YouView Search is excellent

Search is key to the new YouView design, and the system uses programme metadata better than any other TV platform I've experienced.

For example, search for Planet Earth 2 and the pictorial results not only pull up the show (from BBC iPlayer), but related programmes of interest, such as an episode of The Graham Norton Show on which David Attenborough appears promoting the series.

Searches also integrate Netflix results, so a query for Top Gear will bring up a clickable bar of classic Clarkson shows currently available on both Netflix and Dave.

It’s nice to see Netflix sit alongside other content providers, as it means you can pause your Luke Cage marathon to set a recording on the programme guide without ever leaving the Netflix app.

There are a few other platforms that offer similar functionality. Roku's software, for instance, serves up results from 20 different streaming channels, but it's still hardly the status quo. It really should be.

Related: Best TVs

YouView Next Generation 9

Early thoughts

YouView's next-gen UI looks set to change the way existing users interact with the platform.

The switch to HTML 5 has led to an attractive, graphically rich environment; a new design that, in my opinion, is far more engaging than what's offered by Freeview Play. At the same time, it's still all undeniably YouView and that's a good thing, as no learning curve is required.

Yet while the user experience may be evolutionary, what’s happened beneath the lid is more dramatic.

Using a cloud-based back-end opens up a wealth of new feature opportunities which, hopefully, will start to bear fruit in 2017.

Including all existing boxes in the update also warrants applause, and the fact that it doesn’t seem to weigh down older hardware is remarkable.

By way of comparison, every update to Virgin Media’s TiVo incrementally slows it down, plus YouView's chiefs said that the new platform should be able to run on low-cost devices (I’m guessing mini-style tuners without a hard drive) in the future.

In retrospect, the YouView project may not have played out quite as originally envisaged – sales of retail boxes account for a tiny percentage of the user – but as a platform for BT and TalkTalk TV, it’s found a significant audience. This update should keep people watching.

TalkTalk users should already have received YouView 2.0 on their boxes, and BT has confirmed its users will see the new interface in January 2017. If you bought your YouView box in a shop, you’re last in line – but hopefully it won’t take too long to land.

Related: LG webOS 2.0 review

WATCH: All you need to know about TVs

Have you tried out the new-look YouView yet? Let us know in the comments below.


December 7, 2016, 1:44 pm

In the next few days I will have left BT. I understand that my YouView box will still work, except the BT features, but will it still get the update if it is BT controlling the update for their own boxes?


December 7, 2016, 5:16 pm

Yes; all boxes originally sold by or sourced from BT get updates on the BT schedule, but BT will never withhold them from you.


March 3, 2017, 11:50 pm

Anyone know how to roll back the update? I can't read the guide on the new design, it's too indistinct and with the moving picture behind my box is now unusable. Any help much appreciated!


March 4, 2017, 12:16 pm

After the upgrade I can no longer select where to start watching a program (i.e. at 35 minutes). For long programs or films this is a real problem as you have to start at the beginning and jump in 1m increments to where you want to start the program which takes ages and is a significant jump backwards in terms of functionality.

Also it's too hard to tell which program you are deleting, too easy to delete a whole recorded series instead of just one watched episode, and too hard to delete the program you just watched (you have to find it again to delete it). These are all backward steps.

Also when you scroll through the pages of recordings it doesn't loop to page 1 from the end like it used to which is another step backwards.

The images behind your recordings are quite nice but that's the only benefit I've found so far.

Jack McCammon

March 6, 2017, 9:21 pm

I'll stick to blue and yellow lists of text, thank you. A TV guide should do what it says on the tin.

Amanda Finnegan

March 8, 2017, 12:15 am

I thought it was just me, I sent feedback to Youview, they said they had a lot of concerns from other users. How to lose custom, no interest in what Sky and Virgins menus etc look like

Kathryn Gibbs

March 8, 2017, 3:59 pm

I absolutely hate this new look, how can I make the recorded programme list readable again? I was very happy with the old version, how can I change the settings to get back to that? I don't need pictures I just want a sensibly organised list! This new option is giving me a headache, too much, too bright.


March 9, 2017, 8:52 am

How they can say this is an upgrade is beyond me. A few hours of use since yesterday have shown only vastly worse access to anything on our box. Why do they think that pictures are better than the title of the item recorded. The contrast is horrible and facilities far worse than before. I'm tempted to revert to using out old circa 2010 Humax box to avoid this awful new interface. Why don't companies like this actually do any research before rolling out such rubbish.

Jacqueline Johnson

March 13, 2017, 6:35 pm

Missing the current channel in the top right corner no longer have instant information on start and end times have to use the information button for that. My box constantly loses the router so use Google Chomecast to cast internet to TV which always works.

Ian Morgan

March 15, 2017, 7:48 pm

The recorded programme list is a nightmare. The simple list was clean and clear. Now there are pictures it's all a mess Why 'fix' something that was never broken?

Chris Cawthorne

March 15, 2017, 9:02 pm

What on earth were they thinking? How can anybody think this is in an improvement?

J Petley

March 15, 2017, 11:38 pm

What reality was this reviewer in? I've been a YouView user for 3 years and like the apparent 99% of the rest of the YouView community hate this update. Confusing and unusable UI, reduced functionality (discover option and channel hide vanished) and slow to boot. If you're new to YouView and are considering it... don't. At least until they revert this pile of poo.


March 16, 2017, 8:28 am

Pants update.
Can't watch a program while recording, frequent pauses and blank screens, buggy and slow.

Darren Jones

March 16, 2017, 6:02 pm

Seriously? This just sounds like a regurgitation of press info, not an actual review. The new UI has no way to view recordings or schedules via a list view, everything is in pictures.

Here's a newsflash, Mr Professional Reviewer... while people may say a picture paints a thousand words, there are plenty of times when text is what's needed, NOT pictures. And this is the perfect example. What was a useful list of recordings (with program title, channel, date all viewable) is now a series of thumbnails with no information of significance on there. It looks like Windows 8. And that's a bad thing - hence the return of the start menu. In the same way, try turning your file view in Explorer/Finder so that the only thing you see is icons, and a few characters at the start of the filename. Instead of being able to see what you want quickly, you have a useless collection of half-information.

I hate the new UI look - it's large, shouty and far less usable than previously. Looks like someone went mad at the design stage, and decided to take up 40% of the bottom of the screen, following in the footsteps of others who have decided that bigger is better, without thinking about whether it actually is.

I just hope it doesn't take years for YouView to sort this out, unlike Windows!

Babs Bukunola

March 16, 2017, 7:01 pm

Your 'reviewer' is not to be trusted. And seems to be regurgitating promo info. Those that have used , rather than just reviewed the old and new formats are posting 50ish times a day to complain about the change. And that's on just 2 of the Youview threads that I follow. Others are no doubt posting elsewhere on Youview and other sites and are definitely on twitter in like vein.
Bottom line is actually hinted at by your reviewer when referring to options that can (read need to) be selected for basic legibility.
One shouldn't need to make changes to a basic format to render it legible/comprehensible. Even after those changes it is still way below the legibility of the previous format - a posting yesterday was by a guy rung by his parents because they literally couldn't read the new one at all.
Legibility is a basic function that has been greatly impaired but many others have been removed altogether:
-worded record library and library sorting Combined with the legibility issue this has lead to daily reports of accidental deletions / near misses. and lesser losses of recorder functinality. Whole raison d'etre ...gone.
- the platform is no longer child safe.

I can't find anywhere that Youview respond directly to the latter , probably because they've realised that legally this can be a no question reason to return a box 'within it's usable lifetime' .
They continue to metaphorically stick 2 fingers up at all the other complaints ..

A balanced in depth analysis of the changes has been online for months. listing the pros and cons. There are about twice as many cons. But more importantly the cons include 3 major deficits whereas in day to day use all the pros are minor/cosmetic issues .

Babs Bukunola

March 16, 2017, 7:04 pm

Sadly you can't. Youview no doubt should be able to (a justification for the new platform was future updates/corrections could be achieved in a few weeks) but refuse to do so

Babs Bukunola

March 16, 2017, 7:07 pm

You might want to look at the feedback to see if it's something you'll be happy with. If I had my current knowledge before the enforced 'update' I would have disconnected my box from the internet until I got a router that blocked automatic updates.


March 16, 2017, 10:37 pm

This is just rubbish, the personalisation has basically been removed, usability reduced, and often it just doesn't work, or pauses for long periods.
Just switched my youview box off, going to use kodi insted, as it is more reliable and easier to use.

Denys Bennett

March 17, 2017, 7:27 pm

This 'upgrade' is frankly diabolical. This was a perfectly good recorder before the enforced and uninvited change. Now I have no idea where any of my recordings are, instead the sceeen is covered in a kindergarten mosaic of which there are now 11 pages. Who on earth thought that was a good idea without giving the users the option of a conventional list view? Can I downgrade to the previous version? If not, who do I sue for entering my house and vandalising my equipment?

A User

March 18, 2017, 9:16 am

This "upgrade" is an absolute disaster, I am struggling to see anything on the new menu's especially my recorded programs. I want to restore to the previous menu system urgently and ask thet YouView desist from changing the user interface in future without seeking my permission.

Whole heartedly agree with "who do I sue for entering my house and vandalising my equipment?"

Does anyone know how to revert to old system?


March 19, 2017, 12:17 am

Yes, here's one more disgusted user who finds the new version unusable.
1. No text list of recorded programmes showing the information you actually need.
2. After watching a recorded proramme you have to find it again to delete it not simply press delete as before.
3. No 'hide channel' facility. I do not want to have to scroll through 200 odd channels in the guide.
Very, very bad.


March 19, 2017, 10:16 am

Yup, it's just updated and now I can't find recordings. Pictures of things you haven't yet watched don't help you to identify them, any more than truncated titles. Idiotic. Design above function.

Peter Flynn

March 19, 2017, 6:08 pm

Truly ghastly. The idea of using images instead of text listings for recordings is spectacularly stupid, especially for the elderly...in fact ANY change to the interface is stupid for them, as it means re-learning everything. The people at YouView need to go back to what they had, and then go on serious usability training courses and learn how to put USERS first, not their little marketing kiddies. And then TEST their interface with a proper testing panel BEFORE releasing it. But they won't, of course, because they couldn't be bothered...

Dave Fowler

March 19, 2017, 10:33 pm

Turning on the system after the update and being greeted by an update video I have to say I was cautious over what I would experience. Having now used it for a few days I have to say ....... I like it.
There are a few things I would like to see changed though going forward, which if Youview are to be believed, should cause no problem with their fortnightly updates.
1. When having watched 1 of a multiple series recording it is highly frustrating that it takes you back to the recordings menu rather than the series list as this makes deleting the episode a multiple click process.
2. A long time issue is in the categories filter - Why can it not show what films are on 'non film' channels. With Sundays being a prime example, there are many films on ITV, ITV2, BBC etc that do not show.
3. I need an easier route to Hide channels as there are some I do not want visible for my own preference, but also as I do not want my children stumbling across them - and no I dont want to activate parental locking.
On the whole though this is a welcome update for myself and I am sure is something most doubters will come to embrace - but be aware, the future is not about choice, it is about being told how you will do things :-(

Ian Gow

March 20, 2017, 11:59 pm

Why not have a text list of the recorded programmes with all the information on one line? What about making it so that you can delete a recording after watching it with just one click and not having to click through all the other series recordings? Why not simplify the layout by removing all the distracting pictures?
Oh yes, that's how it used to be a few days ago before it became ENGAGING!

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