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YouTube's player goes on a diet

Site introduces leaner, cleaner version of its player. Biggest change is a timeline that nearly disappears, giving you back some screen real estate.

2010 is proving to be the year of YouTube slimming down.

The company on Thursday began offering up a newer, leaner version of its player that's essentially the same as the old one in terms of functionality. The big difference is that the player's timeline nearly disappears after a few seconds of playback, putting more of an emphasis on whatever's playing.

Other small tweaks include a volume knob that slides out into the player's chrome instead of up and on top of the video, as well as a slight fade to the now white and gray player interface that sits below a clip. This small effect is reminiscent of the fade Google added to its home page back in December of last year.

YouTube's latest iteration of its player shrinks the player timeline into a thin line. It also fades out some of the controls. (Click to view this video in the new player.) Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn / CNET

The changes come less than a month after a massive overhaul to the company's player pages--the collection of information that houses each and every video on the site. YouTube told CNET last month that it went to great efforts to trim down all the various elements, either by hiding or changing some of its functionality. For instance, the five-star rating system that had been the company's signature, was replaced with a simpler thumbs up and thumbs down.

Two places you won't see the new player--at least for now, are on videos with advertisements, and players that have been embedded off of YouTube. A YouTube spokesperson told CNET that the new player will extend to these areas within the next few weeks.