Why Does YouTube Play Blurry on the iPad?
By David Weedmark
Blurry YouTube videos on an iPad can be caused by several factors. A slow Internet connection or a busy network are two possible causes, as is using the wrong resolution settings on the YouTube app. Put any of these problems together with a poorly recorded video and you have a perfect storm of fuzziness. In most cases there are steps you can take to fix the problem. Before doing so, however, have the latest YouTube app installed on your iPad.
Weak Wireless Signal
Whether you're using Wi-Fi or cellular data to access a YouTube video, the speed of your Internet service can affect video quality. If you aren't getting a strong Wi-Fi signal, moving the iPad to the same room as the router can give you a better signal. If you're using cellular data, moving closer to a window or door can improve the signal. In either case, look at the signal strength indicator at the top of the home screen and move the iPad into a position where the signal strength is full, and then restart the YouTube video.
No matter how strong your wireless signal is, a slow Internet connection can degrade the quality of streaming video. Switching to a different network can solve this problem if there are other Wi-Fi networks nearby. If you're at home, upgrading your Internet plan to one with better speed can certainly help. Another cause of bottlenecks is congestion on the network. For example, if you're on a college campus during school hours or in a crowded coffee shop where everyone is accessing the Internet at the same time, it may be better to wait until there are fewer people online.
In some cases, the video that was uploaded to YouTube may the problem. If the video was recorded out of focus, nothing you can do on your end will make it better. Another cause of blurry videos is when someone records a video in low resolution and then converts it to a higher resolution format. This has the same effect on a video as trying to use a small thumbnail image as a screensaver. To get around this problem, it's often possible to find the same video, or one that's similar, from a different channel that was recorded in better quality.
Changing the resolution on the YouTube app can often remove the blurriness from a video. After selecting a video, you'll see an Options button in the upper right corner of the video. Tapping this button and then tapping the gear button gives you a choice of resolution options available for the video, ranging from 144p to 360p or 720p. If you have a fast Internet connection, changing to the highest resolution possible should get rid of the blurriness. If your connection is slow, changing to a lower resolution and watching the video without putting it in full-screen mode may give you a relatively crisp image.
Information in this article applies to the YouTube app version 2.2.0 on iOS 7. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful technology businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and online publications on computers and other technology topics.