YouTube is testing native Picture-in-Picture (PiP) mode for its iOS app, says 9to5Mac. The feature allows iOS users to watch YouTube videos while working in other apps.
The new feature was discovered by developer Daniel Yount, who discovered it while viewing a YouTube live stream on his iPad.
Picture in Picture working on iPadOS with the YouTube app.
(But only worked with this live stream, there must be some codec trickery happening behind the scenes for certain playback scenarios). pic.twitter.com/75vG7Ai4ln
— Daniel Yount (@dyountmusic) August 27, 2020
While it worked in that situation for Yount, he was unable to get it to work in other viewing scenarios, suggesting that the feature is still in the experimentation stages.
While PiP has been available to iPad users since iOS 9, the YouTube app has never supported the feature. The iOS PiP feature will also be available on the iPhone with iOS 14, which is due for release this fall.
Developer Steve Troughton-Smith speculates that the new feature is part of a deal between Google and Apple that brings support for YouTube’s VP9 codec to iOS 14 and tvOS 14, which will allow 4K YouTube content to be viewed on those platforms.
it's probably part of the deal that got 4K/VP9 support on iOS. Apple adds VP9, YouTube supports PiP and Apple's accelerated video player
— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) August 27, 2020
However, it is not clear that PiP will be available to all users when the YouTube feature launches. YouTube currently only allows users to view video playback in the background if they subscribe to their YouTube Premium plan.