Just noticed YouTube’s updated favicon. Cleaner? Yes. Better? No. Favicons are one of the web’s finest tiny treasures, used to impart individuality and brand identity at the most basic browser URL address level. It’s a mini-logo that IDs the site as original and authentic.
The process of favicon creation is a definite art, not just the result of taking a logo or trademark and shrinking it down to a 16 x 16 pixel square. Roughly comparable to building a sailboat in a bottle, the successful digitalization of a mark is done at the pixel level; the harsh limitations of bitmap art that will eventually live as a rasterized facsimile.
In the case of YT, it’s pretty obvious that Google is in the process of homoginizing their various properties. I never thought the original YT worked, but it was identifiable. The new favicon is simply a reskinned play button that, while cleaner, doesn’t communicate anything unique.