Sometimes YouTube videos in Google Android tend to slow down where I need to wait a few seconds for them to play without any freezing, buffering, and connection+playback errors. There are simple things you can do like Turning off HD in the Mobile App for YouTube when playing video, and turning off HQ in YouTube mobile site will make videos download/stream faster. All you need is tap on the HD shortcut in the YouTube App, and Tap on the HQ shortcut to switch to a lower video quality to increase the speed of video downloads.
The playback errors are mostly related to a slow Wi-Fi wireless signal and slow Internet connection from my ISP in my experience.
The mobile website at http://m.youtube.com/ seem to load video pages faster than the YouTube App, and videos don’t buffer as much when I use a mobile web browser like Chrome. I notice certain mobile web browsers like UCWeb, Lightning, Now Browser, Opera, and Puffin Browser load videos faster than Chrome sometimes. Turning off HQ/High Quality mode on video on YouTube’s mobile site will make it possible to load video faster, and play video faster on slower mobile devices like smartphones, and tablets. Non-HQ mode plays a lower quality smaller file size version of the video from YouTube mobile site, so your mobile device use less bandwidth/data, CPU, RAM, and video chip GPU resources because of a smaller lower quality video.
You can try a lightweight web browser like Naked Browser for browsing YouTube to see if YouTube loads faster on a lightweight browser. Read my article on Lightweight Fast web browsers for Google Android.
The newest version of the Official YouTube App as of June 12 2014 made by Google/YouTube in Google Play now lets you change the quality of the video to very lower quality settings like 144P, 240P, and 360P when you tap on the settings icon on the top right corner of the video, and click on the Round Gears icon which will launch the settings video changer. 144P will load the fastest, but has the less sharp video quality, and the audio may be less clear. 144P would be good for watching video on a very slow wi-fi or data service, and to save the most bandwidth/data. 240P videos are pretty good for watching videos on a slower wifi signal, and have okay video and sound quality. 360P is the same resolution and quality as playing YouTube on a laptop or desktop web browser where non-HD video usually play at 360P in my experience. There is also a 720P setting which let you stream videos at HD resolution which will load the slowest, and use up the most bandwidth on a slower connection.
Sitting closer to your Wi-Fi router/modem, or connecting to a faster Wi-Fi network signal with a stronger signal if there is a open wi-fi connection. You can also buy a new wireless router, or Wi-Fi extender/booster for boosting your Wi-Fi router’s wireless signal.
Changing the broadcast wi-fi channel of your Wi-Fi router could help as well. I notice Channel 1 and 6 are usually the best wireless channels in my home, but 11-13 are not as good. Channel 1 and 6 are lower frequency channels, so they can go farther, and pass through walls easier than high frequency channels for Wi-Fi. Making sure your other computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones connected to the same network/internet connections are not downloading and uploading big files will help speed up your internet connection for YouTube, and turning off Apps which you are not using can help make your internet connection has more free bandwidth to download YouTube videos.
In some routers, there is a multimedia, gaming mode, QoS/Quality Of Service service, and high power antennae mode which could help with Wi-Fi speeds by optimizing your wireless signal strength, and networking settings inside your router.
In YouTube Official App setting, there is a preloading function which you can turn on to preload videos on your phone’s storage when your phone is charging, Your device is ON, and Wi-Fi or Internet is ON. However, it preloading may make your phone take longer to charge, use more battery life, and slow down your phone’s performance.
You can also pause the video for a few seconds, and wait for the status bar to fill up before playing the video, so you don’t experiences freezes and buffering when watching video on YouTube.
Try holding your phone or tablet higher, or in different positions to see if it helps. I notice when my tablet is laying on its back on a table, the Wi-Fi signal speed, and strength are lower than when I hold it higher pointing toward my head while holding it with one hand.
If you use a metal or thick case for your phone or tablet, remove them to see if the case is causing problems with Wi-fi wireless Internet being slow or the signal not very strong.
Microwaves, wireless phones, walkie talkies, radios, and other devices which uses the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency can slow down your Wi-Fi signal as well. Newer tablets, smartphones, and routers which use the 802.11AC Wi-Fi standard usually stream video faster because they use the 5GHz signal frequency to improve streaming performance when watching YouTube videos.
I notice using YouTube mobile site by going to M.YouTube.com with Google Chrome Browser for Android seem to make videos load faster, and they are less likely to slow down, skip, or buffer compared to the YouTube Android app which seem to load videos slower, and make videos skip and buffer more. The search function in the mobile website for YouTube also seems better than the app version.
Update to the latest version of Google Chrome for Android, and YouTube App for Android when updated for them become available on Google Play because updates for apps usually fixes problems on older versions of the app.
You can also try using alternative web browser for Google Android like Opera, Maxthon, Firefox, and UC Browser which sometimes even let you download your videos to watch at a latter time even when you are not connected to the web. I found Opera, and UC web browser to be the best at playing video streams from YouTube.
Pressing the pause button, and waiting for the status bar to fill up more before you press play would make YouTube videos buffer and skip less.
In the Wi-Fi settings in Android 4.1-4.2.2 Jellybean, there is an Advance option which let you turn-off battery optimization for Wi-Fi which may make your Wi-fi signal better by letting your Wi-Fi use more power.
The latest version of Google Android 4.3 is slightly faster, so if your phone or tablet has an update to Android 4.3 installing it will make the YouTube App, and web browsers faster. Google Android 4.4 Kitkat is designed to work on older phones and tablets, so if you can, it is best to upgrade to Android 4.4, or buy a device with Android 4.4 on it.
Restarting your Smartphone, and Tablet may make it faster, and fix most problems which can slow down apps which make videos load slower.
You can also turn off the HD and HQ/High Quality settings in YouTube App or YouTube’s Mobile website when videos are playing by tapping on the HD and HQ button on videos when they are played. But, turning off HD and HQ would make videos looks less sharp. But, on many lowend and older phones which screens are low resolution and poorer quality. The decrease in quality may not be noticeable.
Switching to a faster Internet, and cell phone data service would make videos load faster, but you’ll have to pay more money per month. If you use a Google Android Netbook laptop, it may have a wired Ethernet jack which you can plug into a wired connection for increase speed, and less interference.
Turning off/exiting other apps like social networking apps, news readers, e-mail apps, sync, Bluetooth, location awareness, NFC, etc may also help make your phone and tablet wi-fi faster, and improve your device;s performance.
Sometimes, it may be your device which make videos lag and take longer to load, or reload videos because of bad downloads like on the Kobo Vox which seem to suffer from bad video loading when loading YouTube videos where it loads the video, and need to redownload the video.
My advice is to sit closer to your wireless router, so your mobile device can more quickly download data, and re-download data which is corrupt, and needs to be re-downloaded. Plus, there will be less interference when you sit closer to your wireless router.
Using a free Wi-Fi Signal booster App for Android like Signal Booster may help you boost your Wi-Fi signal for better playback and YouTube streaming speeds. If they don’t work at speeding up your Wi-Fi, you’ll just waste a few minutes of your time, but you won’t need to spend any money like buying a new wireless router, and subscribing to faster internet which can cost hundreds of dollars.
The Google Nexus 7 tablets load YouTube videos pretty fast, and well in my experience when I use the YouTube Mobile site which plays videos in HQ instead of HD, and when my cable internet is fast during the night, or early mornings the YouTube App can easily and quickly stream videos without slowdowns even in HD video quality.
In some cases, your Internet Service Provider is slowing down internet traffic from YouTube to save bandwidth, and other reason, but if you use a VPN App for Android like Hotspot Shield VPN: Best VPN for WiFi Security, Privacy, Unblock sites to hide YouTube streaming, so your ISP would not slow down YouTube traffic because it can’t see that you are using YouTube. A VPN can also watch YouTube videos which are blocked in your country by changing the location of the VPN to US, UK, etc, and you can use a VPN to access blocked websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace which your school or workplace block because a VPN hides your internet browsing habit, and also protects your privacy by password encrypting your internet traffic. A VPN may also speed up Netflix, Hulu, and bittorent speeds online if your ISP slows down traffic for certain types of downloads like YouTube Traffic.
Sometimes, ISPs and cell phone service providers may also slow down a VPN connection which will make using YouTube, and other sites slower because the ISP is slowing down VPN traffic, so using a VPN could slow down YouTube streaming.
Using a cell phone signal booster device if you use a cell phone or tablet data plan from a cellular may help with slow streaming. If you use Wi-Fi to watch YouTube videos on your tablet or smartphone, you can install a Wi-Fi booster/extender in your home which makes the Wi-Fi signal stronger which may improve the download speeds of your video if it is the Wi-Fi signal in your house which is slowing down your video download speeds. Wi-Fi extenders are very affordable, and easy to setup in most cases. It is usually cheaper to buy a Wifi extender than replacing your entire wireless router. If you use a older wireless router like a 802.11B or 802.11G router, upgrading to a 802.11N or the newest 802.11AC router could make your internet faster because 802.11G and 802.11AC routers have faster connection speeds and better range than 802.11B and G routers.
There are affordable routers like the TP-LINK TL-WR841N Wireless N300 Home Router 300Mpbs which cost $19.99 or less, so replacing your older wireless router with a better one with better range, and faster speeds is affordable.