How to: Solving YouTube Slowness
Let me start by saying that this has bugged me for ages: the native YouTube app is often painfully slow on my iPhone 4. Videos will take forever to buffer, then start, only to stop five seconds later while the app continues to buffer. Meanwhile, the same video will almost always play perfectly on YouTube's mobile site--however, clicking a YouTube link in Safari automatically opens the native app instead. It's maddening.
So I started thinking: why hasn't anyone made a tweak that forces YouTube links in mobile Safari to open in mobile Safari? I was beginning to mount a Twitter campaign to get it done when I realized that Apple had already provided a solution in its Restrictions settings.
By default, iOS devices ship with Restrictions disabled; cautious parents, though, can go in and Enable or Disable any number of apps--one of them being YouTube--as well as a variety of other settings within iOS (in-app purchases, FaceTime, and app installation and deletion can all be toggled on or off, for instance). I'd never given it much thought before tonight, but it turned out the solution was there all along.
By enabling Restrictions (Settings>General>Restrictions; you'll need to assign a passcode if you're turning them on for the first time) you can then toggle YouTube to OFF, effectively stopping iOS from accessing the app--the next best thing to deleting it, which iOS doesn't allow. Once you've done that, any YouTube link you click in mobile Safari will open in YouTube's web app instead of the native app. And more often than not, it will actually play.