YouTube’s website now supports iOS 14’s picture-in-picture mode once again, after the functionality mysteriously disappeared last month. It can be enabled in both Safari as well as third-party browsers like Chrome or Firefox by expanding a video to play fullscreen, and then tapping the small picture-in-picture icon on the top-left of the interface. Then you’re free to minimize the browser and use other apps while the continuing to watch a video. You can also slide the PiP window to the side if you just want to hear music without the video obstructing the display.
OS-level picture-in-picture support was added as a new feature in iOS 14, but shortly afterwards stopped working on YouTube’s website for iPhone users. It continued to work for users who subscribe to YouTube Premium, perhaps unsurprisingly. It also works for iPad users.
While picture-in-picture now works in browsers, it is not available in the YouTube app itself, where MacRumors notes the feature has never been supported. Playing videos in the background is possible via the YouTube app, but only if you have a YouTube Premium subscription. 9to5Mac reports that the service recently tested a picture-in-picture mode in its iOS app, but no official announcements have been made.
YouTube on Thursday restored compatibility with Apple’s iOS 14 picture-in-picture feature, allowing all users to view minimized content from a mobile browser.
Earlier this month, the Google streaming video unit restricted PiP functionality to YouTube Premium subscribers.
The YouTube app does not yet support the feature on iOS, but the service’s website proved a useful workaround until roughly two weeks ago. With PiP still functional on YouTube content embedded in third-party webpages, it was thought that the company had actively updated code on its mobile site to block access to the iOS 14 feature. Such a move would be warranted as PiP essentially enables background audio, a popular Premium-only feature.
As noted by MacRumors, however, it appears that compatibility has returned.
Whether the change is permanent remains unclear, but for now all users — both Premium subscribers and those with free accounts — can view PiP content through Safari.
Apple introduced PiP video viewing to iPhone for the first time with iOS 14. Borrowed from iPadOS, the feature allows users to shrink down and float video content windows, FaceTime calls and other compatible apps over other apps. PiP windows can also be minimized to the side of the screen for audio only playback.