YouTube app for Fire TV now immediately loads YouTube — Just like before Google’s ban

Amazon has updated the YouTube app for Fire TV devices to now remember whether you prefer to use the Silk or Firefox web browser. With the updated app, once you’ve selected one of the two browser choices, all subsequent launches of the YouTube app will automatically load YouTube in your prefered browser without you needing to select a browser each time. This makes the YouTube experience on Fire TV devices exactly how it used to be before Google threatened to block YouTube.

Ever since Google forced Amazon to turn the YouTube app into a bookmark that loads YouTube in a web browser on the Fire TV, the app has presented users with the option to load YouTube in either Silk or Firefox everytime it lloads. The app was updated earlier this year to remember which of the two browsers you last selected so that it highlights the same choice by default, but you still had to make the selection each time you wanted to load YouTube.

With this latest update to the YouTube app, users only have to make the browser choice once and then they’ll never see the prompt again. A new checkbox in the YouTube app, which is selected by default, informs the user that the browser they select will be saved and automatically used as their default browser for YouTube.com. If a user prefers to be prompted for a browser selection each time, they may do so by simply unchecking the option.

This new behavior for the YouTube app is identical to my Bookmarker for YouTube app that I released earlier this year, down to the way users reset their browser option, which is done by clearing the app’s data under the Fire TV’s app management section. My Bookmarker apps have collectively been used by over 50,000 Fire TV owners, so there’s clearly a desire to immediately load a website with a single click from the Fire TV home screen, which is what this new YouTube app update achieves. You’re welcome, Amazon, for helping you figure this out. ;-)

This change to Amazon’s YouTube app essentially makes the YouTube experience on Fire TV devices identical to how it was prior to Google threating to block access to YouTube. The original YouTube app for Fire TV devices was nothing more than an HTML5 web wrapper, made by Amazon, that loaded youtube.com/tv directly in the app. That is identical to how Google’s own YouTube app for Android TV loads YouTube. The only difference now for the Fire TV is that the loading of youtube.com/tv is being redirected to a secondary app (i.e., Silk or Firefox) instead of happening directly in the YouTube app’s web wrapper.

Now that the YouTube app for Fire TV devices remembers and automatically selects the user’s preferred browser, after the first load where a selection needs to be made, the user experience for YouTube on Fire TV devices is identical to Google’s own Android TV devices. Selecting a YouTube icon from the home screen of either a Fire TV device or an Android TV device will now immediately load Google’s tv-optimized HTML5 web view for YouTube. The only difference is an imperceptible app switch that occurs between clicking the icon and loading YouTube.

If it seems like I’m repeating myself, it’s because I’m trying to stress the point to those unaware that YouTube on Fire TV devices is, now more than ever, the exact same experience as other streaming devices. The most significant thing that Google achieved by threatening to block YouTube on Fire TV devices is creating the false impression that Fire TV devices can no longer access YouTube. It’s mind-boggling that so many tech journalists, who are supposed to be the experts on this stuff, still think to this day that Fire TV’s “don’t work with YouTube.

Any Fire TV owner will tell you that all Fire TV devices have always been able to access YouTube. The only change brought on by Google’s threat to block YouTube was that it required one or two extra clicks to load YouTube on a Fire TV device, but now Amazon has removed that tiny inconvenience with their latest update to the YouTube app. Maybe now the rest of the world will realize that YouTube works perfectly on Fire TV devices because the user experience is now literally identical to all other streaming devices.

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24 comments
  1. RedPenguin says:

    Speaking of the YouTube App, did something change with it’s idle behavior?

    Before I could leave Firefox or Silk idle and turn the TV off And just resume again the video or click a video from the YouTube on TV interface on my Fire TV Stick 2.

    Now when I return back ND turn the TV on, oddly it’s back to the Home Screen and I gotta go back to YouTube again.

    Silk starts over making me go to Video History while Firefox usually goes right back to the video.

    • beq says:

      Good to know if Firefox has any YouTube benefits on Fire TV.

      Is it true that Silk is the only one supporting YouTube 4K and Chromecasting right now?

  2. Tom says:

    The thing I dont like about it opening in a browser, is that the only way out is to click the home button, I miss being able to use the Back Button to get out of it. Otherwise, its the same experience.

  3. Chris says:

    Your move Google.

    Hopefully they won’t block Silk UA (user agent) now from accessing their content. If they do, can’t imagine them restricting Firefox so hopefully they won’t bother.

  4. myklj says:

    It would be great if they could improve bookmarking so that we could save YouTube bookmarks with legible, informational titles.

  5. Charlie says:

    I updated, because I got tired of the constant nagging to upgrade. What is missing for me are the few seconds of preview you get when hovering on a video. That’s what the Roku and Android TV app does. For me, it’s a nice little feature.

  6. Randall D Lind says:

    I thought they made up? Amazon was suppose to star selling Google home devices etc. However nothing yet. I would still side load YouTube app.

  7. hdmkv says:

    Just use Smart YouTube TV and be done with it.

    • Randall D Lind says:

      Me too but Amazon did a good job with this. Tom said it exiting it is bit of a challenge. If they could mod the back button to exit like the app used to do be perfect.

  8. hadleyguy says:

    but what about youtube on echo show and spot? I’m hoping they get a work around for those..

    • H.E.C. says:

      Agree, Amazon should add similar solution to those as well. If you read Echo Show reviews on amazon.co.uk the missing YouTube is the major complain point there…

      • Tom says:

        Yea, My Show just sits on the shelf now that i cant use it to view Youtube Vid’s while I am cooking and cleaning. Its only use now is Timers in the kitchen, and weather from time to time.

  9. The Brain says:

    What about the DIAL feature?

    Does it work with any of the browsers, or do you have to log into your account or link through a code to control the playback through a smartphone?

    That is one useful feature of the old app.

  10. BobR says:

    Thanks for helping Amazon and thanks to Amazon for making the change. Looks like I’ll finally move off the pre-1/1 version of the YouTube app. It’s been a long 8 months with the kids yelling at me to fix it. What made that app the most painful for me was reloading after factory resets which unfortunately are still common with my Cube.

  11. Stephen A. Cuevas says:

    Any word on an official “YouTube TV” app for Fire TV?

    I use my older Roku 3 solely for “YouTube TV”…The navigation speed pales in comparison with my Fire TV Box (2nd Gen)…I still use my Fire TV Box for everything else…

    Yes…I did install the “Smart YouTube TV” app Elias wrote about in June; however, the best resolution is 480p.

    Thanks!

  12. derrick says:

    funny. i got a shield tv after the disappointing performance of my firetv stick and the lackluster recent firetv releases. but the youtube stupidity was a big push. so far love the power of the shield tv. ever menu is snappy and instant. apps load blazingly fast and plex server is so nice.

  13. Mr P says:

    Trying to watch YouTube on the Fire TV 2 has got to be the absolute worst god-awful experience of any Android TV box on the market. The experience is just terrible. How the Silk update is supposed to be the same as the old app is beyond me. With the old app, You Tube opened up full screen with just it’s menus to navigate. On the disaster that is Silk I’m stuck with browser type menu bars at the top and tabs, tabs FFS!!!! If I want to watch YT on a computer I’ll use a computer!! I use a TV box for a TV type experience, not this crap.

    This is the last straw for me with Amazon, their rubbish boxes and their childish spats with Google. Of course, the customer suffers. Not for me any more. Now using Nvidia Shields that DO work and the Fire TV 2s (two of them) have gone in the bin. No more Amazon junk for me!!

  14. beq says:

    “That is identical to how Google’s own YouTube app for Android TV loads YouTube.”

    It’s interesting then that the YouTube app on Shield TV still does *not* allow logging in to multiple accounts and switching back and forth?

    Multiple accounts have been supported on other platforms (with the Apple TV native YT app being the last one to add it). Multiple accounts are also supported when loading http://www.youtube.com/tv via the browser, whether a computer browser or a browser app on Fire TV (Silk, Firefox) or even Android TV (Puffin, Chrome).

    P.S. Thanks for the Bookmarker apps BTW!

    • The Brain says:

      In my Mi Box it was made possible to log into multiple YouTube accounts after the Oreo update.

      Wasn’t the same for the Shield?

      • beq says:

        Now that’s interesting, thanks.

        Negative for Shield even though it’s also on Oreo. I wonder if they customize the YouTube app in some way?

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