YouTube begins rolling out picture-in-picture on iPhones and iPads

YouTube begins rolling out picture-in-picture on iPhones and iPads
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A blue iPhone 12 lying flat on a table

Two years after the feature was made available to third-party developers on iPhones and seven years after it came to iPad, Google announced that it will now bring picture-in-picture display to the YouTube iOS and iPadOS apps.

Google says the picture-in-picture feature will be rolled out gradually, although it didn’t give a timeframe. However, it was clarified that the availability of the feature would vary depending on the premium subscriber’s status and location. Globally, the picture-in-picture feature works for anyone with a YouTube Premium subscription and any video. US users who Not YouTube Premium will also be able to take advantage of picture-in-picture, but only for what Google deems to be non-musical content.

This limitation will likely discourage users from simply listening to music on their devices in the background via a free YouTube account instead of subscribing to the company’s music offerings. While picture-in-picture is new, background audio (including music) for currently playing video has long been a cornerstone of the YouTube Premium service.

Picture-in-Picture was introduced on iPhones in iOS 14 released in 2020, but on iPad it dates back to iOS 9 of 2015. Since its inception on the iPhone, the feature has made its way into the best supported video playback apps on the platform, leaving YouTube as a special case.

Google announced last summer that it would begin testing the feature with YouTube Premium members who signed up, and that testing period ended in April. The company had not said a word about it until then. Android users have had access to YouTube Picture-in-Picture for years.

For what it’s worth that Community support post from Google, which announced this new launch, confirmed the slow pace and said:

We recognize that the rollout of a highly requested feature has been slow, and would like to thank everyone who provided feedback during testing (including recently on and waited patiently for this moment!

However, this isn’t the first time that iPhone and iPad users have received important features from Google apps like YouTube or Google Maps much, much later than Android users.

As with other apps that use iOS’ native picture-in-picture functionality, all you have to do is play a video and then swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or press the home button on older iPhone designs) to launch the app to leave. The video should continue playing in a draggable, resizable, floating window while navigating the home screen or other apps on your device.

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