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Apr 12, 2001
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YouTube appears to be testing Picture in Picture (PiP) mode for its iOS app, reports 9to5Mac. The feature allows users to watch YouTube videos while using other apps, and was discovered by developer Daniel Yount, who stumbled across it while viewing a YouTube live stream on his iPad.


Yount wasn't able to get PiP to work in YouTube during any other playback scenarios, suggesting the feature is still in the experimentation stage.

The YouTube app has never supported PiP, a feature that has been available to iPad users since iOS 9. Apple is also bringing PiP to iPhone with iOS 14, due to release this fall.

Developer Steve Troughton-Smith speculates that the feature's introduction is part of a deal between Google and Apple that brings support for YouTube's VP9 codec to tvOS 14 and iOS 14, allowing 4K YouTube content to be watched on those platforms. In any case, it's not clear that PiP will be available to all users when the YouTube feature launches.

Officially, YouTube only allows users to playback videos in the background if they subscribe to YouTube Premium, which means PiP may be restricted to paying users. YouTube Premium costs $11.99 ($15.99 through the YouTube app for iOS due to Apple's in-app purchase fees).

However, iOS 14 users can still watch YouTube videos in Picture in Picture Mode through Safari. Read our step-by-step guide to learn how.

Article Link: YouTube Tests Native Picture-in-Picture Mode for iOS App
 
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oohh

macrumors newbie
Feb 1, 2018
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The Netherlands
It makes sense to only enable this feature for live videos, as YouTube does not want you to listen to music videos while you do not have the app open. You can only do this with YouTube Premium. Also not sure if it is possible for YouTube to present ads while in PiP mode.
 
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anthorumor

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2009
798
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Sydney, Australia
I deleted the YouTube app on my iPad and just trained myself to open Safari everytime I wanted to YouTube something. It’s pretty good to go PiP. Note, I have Premium (which PiP works natively on my Samsung Galaxy Note), so unsure if this method works with ad-supported version on iPad through Safari.
 
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arn

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Apr 9, 2001
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Someone emailed us a couple of days ago saying they saw this on their iPad, but couldn't reproduce it. Must be being tested somehow.
 
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Caliber26

macrumors 68020
Sep 25, 2009
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Orlando, FL
While Pip is nice I don't see a the point on such small screens.
For me, at least, the usefulness of the feature isn’t so much the video but the audio I’m interested in listening to while I do other things on my phone.

For example, I watch the Big Brother live feeds throughout the day and don’t really care for what’s happening on the screen, but more interested in the conversations taking place.
 
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recoil80

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
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While Pip is nice I don't see a the point on such small screens.

I can see myself using it to keep watching something while I scroll my tweets.
I mostly consume stuff on the iPad but sometimes I'm reading tweets on my iPhone and I can have music on background but sometimes I want watch a video and at this time I can't do it on the iPhone with the Youtube app
 
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TJ82

macrumors 6502a
Mar 8, 2012
974
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Really want this on my iPhone. I play Youtube in the background (on YT Premium) but some Youtube controls being visible would massively upgrade it. Also easier to just click on the PIP to go back into YT instead of the app which can be on a different background page. Let's face it, who only has one page of apps on their phones these days.
 
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InGen

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Jun 22, 2020
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The reason they’ve never implemented this on their iOS/iPadOS apps is because they are unable to activate the feature exclusively for Premium users. Because it’s an Apple API feature not a YouTube built one, they have to add it into their app for everyone or no one at all. And so giving this to everyone would make premium users feel disadvantaged. And also confuse normal users who could PiP their videos but still not turn to screen off without stopping the video

so yeah the implementation of this feature is way overdue but not due to lack of ability to code it in, rather the decision of whether to add it in everyone or no one. The battle continues
 
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Wokis

macrumors 6502
Jul 3, 2012
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Stockholm, Sweden
For me, at least, the usefulness of the feature isn’t so much the video but the audio I’m interested in listening to while I do other things on my phone.

For example, I watch the Big Brother live feeds throughout the day and don’t really care for what’s happening on the screen, but more interested in the conversations taking place.
Though if you have premium, audio playback in background is enabled already.

Personally I’d want a little PiP to glance at occasionally.
 
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PSeg90

macrumors regular
Jul 30, 2020
109
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Chattanooga, TN
I've been using the work-around, I've just gone to Safari and added YouTube.com to my iPhone home screen just to use PiP for YouTube content in iOS14. So obviously would be better if the native YouTube app actually implimented the capabilities.
 
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jprmercado

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2012
123
297
The reason they’ve never implemented this on their iOS/iPadOS apps is because they are unable to activate the feature exclusively for Premium users. Because it’s an Apple API feature not a YouTube built one, they have to add it into their app for everyone or no one at all. And so giving this to everyone would make premium users feel disadvantaged. And also confuse normal users who could PiP their videos but still not turn to screen off without stopping the video

so yeah the implementation of this feature is way overdue but not due to lack of ability to code it in, rather the decision of whether to add it in everyone or no one. The battle continues

I’m on YouTube Premium, and I wouldn’t mind if they enabled PiP for all users, whether they’re on Premium or not. I’m all for an improved user experience for everyone, which comes at no cost to me.

I guess I’m OK with this because my main reason for subscribing to Premium is to get rid of the ads, and background playing is just a bonus to me. I can imagine it’d be different for people who subscribed to Premium primarily for background playing.
 
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x-evil-x

macrumors 603
Jul 13, 2008
5,158
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I really want this also as ive been a beta tester for iOS 14 I always seem to forget to use safari when using YouTube since its so much easier to just open the app. It is now to have while doing other things.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
22,312
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This is what someone posted in another thread back in July as to why YouTube didn’t support PIP.

The YouTube iOS app uses a bespoke framework for codecs and decoding video in a raw framebuffer in the app. They have be using it for years since the native iOS came around after Apple's version was ended. Guessing this was because Apple's av frameworks have been buggy and never supported codecs that Google/Youtube cared about like VP9 and others. Generally not an issue, but then when Apple implemented PIP it requires using their player framework to render video and it can't host any arbitrary view. That's why iPad support wasn't just something they could turn on without just fundamentally rewriting the app. Apple built it that way so people didn't abuse the API to show non video content using PIP but at the same time you have to buy fully in to Apple's limited and buggy API for video. I don't know how PIP is implemented on iPhone but if it's the same API as what the iPad did, don't expect youtube to turn it on any time soon. There are possible workarounds but mostly through hacks and things like offline video that youtube support might be broken with PIP (I can't say for sure, it's been years since I built a video app for iOS myself). Honestly I wish apple would do the android way because on Android PIP you can have apps host things like maps for navigation there or any other type of window in PIP and not just video.
 
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incoherent_1

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2016
652
1,056
Although a good step forward, it’s still ridiculous this is limited to paying subscribers. We really need a viable YouTube competitor to encourage better feature adoption...
 
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QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,503
1,585
Colorado Springs, CO
It was working fine for all videos natively in an earlier iOS 14 beta (1 or 2) and YouTube app before YouTube updated it and turned the feature off.

I don’t think they’re experimenting. I think it will never happen since they can’t make it a premium user feature only as Apple forbids limiting its API.
 
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