An engineer with Mozilla recently discovered that Google seems to have slowed YouTube, one of the world’s most popular websites, on non-Chrome browsers.
According to Mozilla’s technical program manager, Chris Peterson, it has to do with a recent YouTube redesign. YouTube’s Polymer redesign uses an older Shadow DOM API that’s been deprecated; Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge browsers work with the standard Shadow DOM and Custom Elements APIs.
There is a fix, if you’re a Firefox user:
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
There’s a fix for Microsoft Edge, as well.
— Chris Peterson (@cpeterso) July 25, 2018
In subsequent tweets, Peterson notes that your mileage may vary—others see smaller speed differences.
A Google spokesperson told CNET that the company found overall YouTube performance is the same on Firefox that it was before the site redesign, according to its latest metrics. However, Google acknowledged that it isn’t perfect, and does find bugs from time to time that can affect performance for users. In fact, it recently fixed a bug that improved performance for Firefox browser users.
Mozilla, meanwhile, says that it’s been working with YouTube as the company migrates to these standard APIs. “The Firefox community maintains its focus on improving user-visible performance on all sites, including YouTube,” a Mozilla spokesperson said in a statement.
If YouTube does in fact tend to run slower on other browsers, it’s certainly annoying, but not unheard of. Browser makers engineer their products to work smoothly together. Apple, for example, specifically engineers its Safari browser to run as fast as possible on the Mac. However, depending on the device you’re running, the browser version you’re on, internet speeds, and other factors, speed differences between browsers may be negligible, or exceedingly noticeable. If you’re frustrated that your favorite sites are loading slowly, it may be time to give some other browsers a try and see how they compare.