Firefox and updated Silk Browser on Fire TV are great ways to access YouTube if Google indeed blocks the main app next year

Despite Amazon now selling the Chromecasts again and being in a “productive discussion” with Google to try and keep YouTube access on the Fire TV next year, the main YouTube app on the Fire TV continues to display a message saying the app will no longer be available starting January 1st, 2018. With today’s release of Firefox for Fire TV and today’s update to Amazon’s Silk Browser, there are now two very good alternatives to accessing YouTube on the Fire TV if Google goes through with blocking the main app.

Website youtube.com loaded in the Silk Browser on a Fire TV

If you load youtube.com in either FireFox or the Silk Browser on a Fire TV device, you will see YouTube’s mobile-optimized website. While that version of YouTube is perfectly usable on the Fire TV, by moving an onscreen cursor around, it’s certainly not ideal or as good as the main Fire TV YouTube app.

Website youtube.com/tv loaded in the Silk Browser on a Fire TV

However, if you load youtube.com/tv in either FireFox or the Silk Browser, you will see YouTube’s television-optimized website, which looks nearly identical to the interface of the main Fire TV YouTube app. That’s because the main YouTube app on the Fire TV is just a browser that loads the exact same television optimized version of YouTube.

Loading youtube.com/tv in either web browser on the Fire TV is not as good as using the official app, but it’s pretty close. Amazon made the Fire TV’s YouTube app, so they’ve tweaked it so that YouTube’s television-optimized site works perfectly with the Fire TV and the Fire TV remote. Without those tweaks, you get minor oddities when visiting youtube.com/tv in Firefox or Silk, such as the onscreen prompts to press keyboard buttons for certain actions.

When Amazon first released their Silk Browser for the Fire TV, it did not work well with YouTube’s television-optimized site. Even though the site was made to be used with a remote, the Silk Browser still forced you to use the onscreen cursor to navigate the site, which made parts of the site unusable.

With today’s Silk Browser update that adds compatibility with the new Fire TV 3, Amazon has also optimized the Silk Browser to no longer use the onscreen cursor for navigation on youtube.com.tv. Instead, if you’re using the latest version of the Silk Browser on the Fire TV, you can now use the remote control directional buttons to navigate YouTube’s television-optimized site. Firefox on the Fire TV also has this optimization and if you select the YouTube icon from Firefox’s “Home” screen, it also automatically loads youtube.com/tv instead of just the regular YouTube website.

If Google does block access to YouTube through the main YouTube app on the Fire TV and does not block access through the Silk Browser, Amazon could theoretically further optimize the Silk Browser so that using it to access YouTube would be identical to the current YouTube app. Even if they don’t go any further to optimize the browser for YouTube, the current version of the browser is pretty good as-is.

ShareTweetShare+1

18 comments
  1. Patricia says:

    I thought this when I read your earlier email about the Firefox or Silk browser. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Holger says:

    Wouldn’t it be possible for Google/YT to detect the device and block it completly this way?

    • Dave says:

      Yes, the browser user agent clearly states that the device is a Fire TV device. Using Silk or Firefox won’t do anything.

      https://developer.amazon.com/docs/fire-tv/user-agent-strings.html

    • Peter says:

      Yeah I agree. I don’t think this has to do with the browser but the device.

    • Hackfleisch says:

      Net neutrality may have been just abolished in the US, but it was just recently enforced in the EU. Blocking an app is one thing, blocking free web access to http://www.youtube.com/tv is a different issue. It would violate net neutrality at least in the EU and Google is already fighting a 2.5 bn € fine (the EU commission found that Google would abuse its big market share in some way – blocking access by fire tv users would basically confirm this assumption).

      And blocking only customers in the US, but not the EU, would make them riot. So I reckon it is very unlikely, that Google is going to block access via browser anywhere.

      • Steve Day says:

        Google was lobbying for 2015’s “Net Neutrality” law to remain while at the same time they were banning the Amazon Echo Show from YouTube last September.

        …So clearly “Net Neutrality” was no threat to Google.

        What is a threat to Google, Facebook, and Amazon etc, are clampdowns when they start to behave like a monopoly – which Google & Facebook are already doing (and Amazon is on a roll to become soon).

  3. Paul T says:

    The “Smart YouTube TV” app identifies as a LG SmartTV, so Google can’t block it. Install it with the Downloader app.

    It also blocks YouTube’s ads, which normally I would frown upon as a scumbag act, but now… yeah, that’s OK.

    https://smartyoutubetv.github.io/en/

  4. Andy M says:

    Firefox doesn’t play content purchased from the play store, I just get an error message. Will try silk some time. A bit annoying that Amazon introduced web browsers shortly after releasing a new fire tv with no usb connector for a keyboard.

  5. Norman Penn says:

    Maybe Google was right after all, browser based systems the best solution.

  6. James Seif says:

    Troypoint has an execellent video on how to install Youtube replacement for FireTV, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=tm2EGCu0QEY

  7. Leonardo Fornari says:

    That is great..
    Has someone tried to watch Amazon Prime on an US AFTV, outside the country, via browser?

  8. md nahid says:

    please upload firefox for firetv apk

  9. Seb says:

    Maybe I’m just too dumb. But how do I use voice search in Silk on my FireTV? Pressing the microphone button on the remote just opens the system wide Alexa voice search. So how do I voice search within Silk?

  10. Botioni says:

    Youtube app changed to a bookmarkt for silk or firefox if you update to the latest version it vil open an ask if you want to open in silk or firefox.

  11. Nick says:

    i realize this is a really old post but i have a question pertaining to User Agent.

    charter likes to block a lot of things on the fire tv apparently. i loaded the HGTV website into silk and when i tried to log in with my charter credentials i was met with a message saying that charter didn’t yet support hgtv on the firetv.

    so… i’m wondering if there’s a way to change the user agent in the browser so a website doesn’t know i’m on a fire tv.

    any thoughts?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Changing your user agent wouldn’t help. If you can’t access HGTV with your Charter credentials, it’s because Charter and HGTV have not made an agreement to allow app access. There’s nothing you could do to make the HGTV app work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Get notified of new posts

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.