YouTube relents, allows picture-in-picture video on iPhone

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YouTube Picture in Picture is back. At least for now.
Picture-in-Picture video from YouTube will soon be back for everyone.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

YouTube will reportedly soon allow all iPhone users to watch video from its application in a small window while another app is open. This feature has come and gone several times since Picture in Picture support debuted in iOS 14. Now it’s apparently coming back to stay.

YouTube told MacRumors, “Picture-in-Picture (PiP) allows users to watch YouTube videos in a small mini player while simultaneously browsing outside of the YouTube app on their mobile device. We’re starting to roll out PiP for YouTube Premium members on iOS and plan to launch PiP for all US iOS users as well.”

The statement makes no mention of iPad, but many companies treat “iOS” as a synonym for “iOS and iPadOS.” It’s possible that’s what’s happening here.

It’s not clear why the change is being restricted to U.S. users.

YouTube Picture in Picture is/isn’t available

iPadOS 13 brought Picture in Picture support to iPad, and iPhone users got it in iOS 14. Users can play a video then switch to another app and have the video continue playing in a small window that can be moved, resized and quickly collapsed. It’s available in the Apple TV app, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and others.

But Picture in Picture support was never consistently available for YouTube. Which is frustrating considering the service dominates the streaming video market.

This was never about technical limitations — YouTube disabled the feature for iPhone and iPad users. It is available on Android, and as both Google and YouTube have Alphabet as their parent company, it’s possible the feature was being kept in the family, so to speak. If so, the restriction is ending.