Google is clearly obsessed with the idea of speeding up the Web these days. After launching Google Public DNS earlier today, the company also just announced a new light-weight beta version of YouTube. “Feather” introduces ultra-light watch pages that load faster than the standard YouTube pages. According to YouTube engineer Chris Zacharias, new features like 1080p video have slowed down loading times significantly for users who don’t have access to high broadband speeds.
This experiment was designed to allow users to access videos as quickly as possible. The new watch pages were engineered to keep latency at a minimum. Feather turns off most of the AJAX features on YouTube. Because of this, you can’t comment on videos, see stats, flag a video or share it. On a fast broadband connection, the difference between loading speeds is barely noticeable. Users with slow Internet connections, however, will surely benefit from this experiment.
As far as we can see, the video player itself hasn’t changed, and to see the Muppets perform Bohemian Rhapsody in 1080p, you will still need a pretty fast connection.
For now, Feather will only work on a select number of YouTube videos, though Google will likely expand this experiment if it turns out to be successful.
To join this experiment, just head to this page. You can use the same page to leave the experiment later.