YouTube had last week reduced its default video quality to standard definition (SD) on mobile networks over growing Internet bandwidth concerns, as the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic has restricted everyone indoors. With people at home almost globally, there has been a significant surge in Internet usage, raising concerns about networks slowing down due to the lack of bandwidth. Now, while streaming services like YouTube and Netflix have already reduced their default video qualities to ease the stress, YouTube now seems to have gone a step ahead. It has been reported that YouTube is now limiting the video quality on its mobile application to a maximum of 480p. Upon checking, some of us were able to confirm the quality ceiling on both Android and iOS apps, though others were still able to switch to higher resolutions.
Now, although there has been no official communication from YouTube regarding the restriction, some users of both the Android and iOS applications have reported a 480p limit on their respective apps. Although XDA Developers, who noticed the development first, only reported the restriction for Android, multiple iOS users have also pointed out the 480p restriction now. The restriction is in place regardless of the kind of network a user is on, be it mobile network (4G LTE) or Wi-Fi. The XDA report also says that YouTube might be rolling out the restriction regionally, since some users are still being able to set the video quality on their apps.
Meanwhile, the YouTube website remains unaffected by this restriction as users are being able to switch to any quality they wish.
We have reached out to YouTube for an official word on this development. This story will be updated with the official response when Google responds.
Last week, YouTube had announced that it has set the default video quality as SD in India on mobile networks in order to save bandwidth since the coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive spike in Internet usage. However, there was no restriction on the ability to watch HD content for anyone in last week's development.
Apart from YouTube, other streaming platforms have also taken measures to prevent the network stress. Streaming platforms like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others are now either defaulting or locking their services to standard definition (SD) quality. In India, the companies have reduced the quality on mobile networks after a request from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) asking them to move from HD to SD.