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.