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YouTube begins testing lighter 'feather' version

Google puts YouTube on a post-Thanksgiving diet with a new mode called "feather" that strips out many of the things that can slow videos down.

In a nod to efficiency, YouTube on Thursday began testing a more lightweight version of its video player pages called "feather."

Feather pages do a number of things to speed up the video-playing process, from defaulting to the standard quality version (instead of high quality or high definition), to removing various on-page features such as being able to control the size and coloring of an embed. The idea is to get the video playing as soon as possible with fewer on-page distractions.

Other efficiencies include limiting the number of loaded comments to just 10, which users are now unable to vote on or respond to. Video replies, real-time sharing, and auto-suggest from YouTube's search bar have also been cut. However, related videos remain--albeit at a more limited 5 videos compared to YouTube's usual offering of 21.

Users who want to try out the new interface can do so by opting in to it on YouTube's TestTube page, which houses experimental, or otherwise not-so-ready-for-primetime features. These include YouTube's visual warp browser, its live streams product, and comment search tool. Once it's enabled, it can quickly be disabled from any video page with a little green box that sits on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

It's worth noting the feature does not yet appear to work on all videos just yet. We had the best luck on popular videos, including those from YouTube's featured section. Also, if you're a YouTube power user who regularly makes use of things such as video replies and user comments, it's worth staying on the standard version of the service.

Below you can see a before and after of feather mode on the same video. Click it to enlarge.

YouTube's new feather mode ditches many of YouTube's advanced features in favor of a faster-loading page. CNET