YouTube’s recent Polymer redesign upgrade was loved by many, which included improved designs and an added dark theme. Much after all the wow factor became a part of the routine, a new controversy came up stating Youtube slowing down on non-Chrome browsers.
This glitch was brought to light by Mozilla’s Technical Program Manager, Chris Peterson. He tweeted, YouTube’s current architecture that includes Polymer is only available in Google Chrome. Thus, making it slower on Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
Why is Youtube loading slower on non-Chrome browsers
Per Peterson, YouTube’s polymer redesign depends on the deprecated Shadow DOM v0 API, which is also the current implementation in Google Chrome.
On the other hand, Firefox and Edge browsers have Shadow DOM polyfills, which are slower than Chrome’s native implementation. Peterson also stated that “On my laptop, initial page load takes 5 seconds with the polyfill viz-a-viz one without it. Subsequent page navigation perf is comparable.”
What about the Internet Explorer 11? YouTube’s condition in the IE11 is a lot slower than even Firefox and Edge. IE11 is still being served with the old version of YouTube, by default.
YouTube page load is 5x slower in Firefox and Edge than in Chrome because YouTube's Polymer redesign relies on the deprecated Shadow DOM v0 API only implemented in Chrome. You can restore YouTube's faster pre-Polymer design with this Firefox extension: https://t.co/F5uEn3iMLR
— Chris Peterson (@cpeterso) July 24, 2018
Is there a fix?
Google could have chosen to service the new implementation into Firefox and Edge. A failure to do this, has resulted in the popular video streaming website running substantially slower on these two.
However, there is an easy fix for this issue. Peterson recommends users on both Firefox browser and Edge to revert YouTube to a previous version using add-ons. Firefox users can boost YouTube page load speeds by installing the YouTube Classic extension, while Edge users can do the same by installing the Tampermonkey extension and the YouTube − Restore Classic script.
There are speculations that this is Google’s secretive plan to migrate the non-chrome users to Chrome? But that begs the question of whether such a move is worth risking Youtube users leaving the platform due to poor user experience. Considering this, the performance issue is unlikely to be a conscious effort from Google. What is more likely is that Google may’ve considered redesigning it with Polymer could provide great exposure to the web development framework’s features and use-cases.
YouTube has more than 1.8 billion registered viewers every month along with 400 hours of video are uploaded to its site every minute. Although it works excellently in Chrome, which is the most popular web browser and accounts for 59 percent of website usage, a significant amount of the population still use Firefox and Edge. As such Youtube users expect a seamless experience regardless of what browser they use, and that is a fair expectation of a product from a reliable brand.