Not so long ago the Android TV YouTube app received a redesign which many users were not so keen on. Although over time it has started to get better with more minor updates. One of the most often talked about criticisms of the new design was the inability to change the streaming quality of a video. Those users will be happy to know this feature has now started to return to Android TV.
As anyone who has used the mobile version of YouTube will likely know, the app gives you the option to choose the quality from a number of options. Whether you want to make sure you are viewing the best quality or simply downgrading to match your connection, this is possible. And it was also originally possible on Android TV, although since the new major redesign update it has not been with the settings for this removed, resulting in the app automatically deciding the streaming quality for the user. Needless to say, this has proved to be a major pain point for users and a consistent thorn in the Android TV's app version ever since. Recently, however, the feature has started to return to the app allowing users to once again select a streaming quality - including 4K. After some general testing it seems as though the app always defaults to the best (highest) quality option available so for those looking to increase the quality, this is unlikely to be something you will need to manually do. Although if you are someone who would prefer to limit the quality of the stream (for connections reasons) then you might want to more closely monitor the settings each time and especially when viewing higher quality video content.
It is also worth pointing out that it seems as though the update is rolling out as a server-side update at the moment as it has yet to show up on all devices, in spite of those devices running the same YouTube app version (2.02.08). What may also be of interest is how the new feature seems to be more active on TV sets that are powered by Android TV, with most of the Android TV box options (NVIDIA SHIELD, Xiaomi Mi Box, and so on) yet to see the change go live. Although, this is not a golden rule as some users on a Reddit thread on the topic say they have seen the update arrive on their box. In either case, to check if your Android TV app has been updated and now sports the new change, launch the app and start playing a video - doesn't matter which one for testing purposes. Once the video is playing click any button (to launch the menu interface), scroll left and click on the “More options” link. This will open the various other YouTube-related in-video settings (such as closed caption, thumbs up, etc), If the change is live then the first option (to the right of “More options” and before “CC”) will be listed as “Quality.” Clicking on this option will open an overlay page where you can select the quality of the video stream - as shown in the image above.