TikTok gives some users a less cluttered viewing experience

Some TikTok users have started noticing a “Clear Mode” option, which allows them to watch a video without the UI overlay that typically displays things like the favorites and comments buttons and other information about the video. TikTok confirmed Tech Crunch that he’s currently testing the feature, but it’s unclear how many people have access to it.

Those who are part of the test group (which includes at least two Edge staff members) can access Clear Mode by long-pressing a video and then tapping the Clear Mode button in the menu that appears. The same method can be used to exit clear mode, and there’s also a button in the lower right corner that will take you back to the standard UI.

Enabling light mode is a two-step process. (Apologies for the recording method, we’ll explain why it had to be done this way in a moment.)

If you enable clear mode you’ll be able to watch a TikTok without all the window chrome, but if you scroll to the next video the UI returns and you’ll have to re-enable clear mode if you want to get the real full screen video experience. That’s not how I would expect it to work, but it would make sense for the company to build the feature that way; this ensures that you will at least have the chance to see who made the video and what sound it uses.

TikTok did not immediately respond to The edgerequesting feedback on whether this behavior is intentional.

I was able to use light mode on TikTok – it was available when I looked at the For You page, as well as on people’s profiles and even in videos DMed to me. It wasn’t showing up for ads and interestingly it wasn’t available when I was recording the screen. In theory, this will help prevent people from using clear mode to steal content and pass it off as their own.

Light mode off (left) vs light mode on (right).

I don’t want to oversell this change, but to me it makes the app feel like usable. I’ve always hated how the UI, which mostly contains information I don’t care about, covers a large percentage of the video I’m trying to watch. Light mode solves this problem. (Does the fact that I prefer it mean that light mode is basically old person mode? Maybe.)

The fact that TikTok is adding this seems like stronger evidence that the company is focusing more on longer videos — over the past year, the maximum time limit for TikToks has gone from one minute to ten minutes. While the annoying UI of a 30 second video is only a little annoying, I don’t think many people want to watch something for 10 minutes while the main content is covered in buttons and text and constantly moving icons.

Designing the mode to focus on longer content would also explain why you have to turn it back on every time – if that’s an intentional choice. While it’s hard to justify activating the long-press menu and pressing the button to watch something that lasts less than a minute, it makes more sense for something you’re about to watch.

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