Picture-in-picture functionality on iOS devices running iOS 15 or above finally lets YouTube TV catch up to other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Prime Video. YouTube has been late to implement this now standard feature that enables users to watch videos in a tiny, floating miniplayer on their homescreen while multitasking on their smartphone. It was first provided to iPad users with iOS 13 and then to iPhone users with iOS 14 in 2020.
For the new picture-in-picture feature to work, users must first choose a show they wish to watch and then swipe up from the bottom of the screen to activate it, the firm noted in a tweet on Wednesday announcing the news. Not all users will see this option right once, as YouTube claimed it was “slowly rolling out” to all users.
YouTube has been criticised for taking so long to add a feature that is now considered standard. As a vital part of YouTube’s business, providing and monitoring advertising is a major consideration for the iOS version of the YouTube player. Other streamers, like Netflix and Amazon, would not have to deal with this issue.
This appears to be the most likely reason, considering that YouTube has been “testing” picture-in-picture (PiP) since last August with Premium users as part of its YouTube “experiments.” By 2020, YouTube’s Premium users have the option of participating in “experiments,” which are beta testing of new services. Since last year, YouTube subscribers in the United States have been able to test PiP on the iOS YouTube app. On YouTube’s experiments page, the testing are still ongoing. Currently, the current exam is accessible on YouTube till April 8th.
Because of this, it’s possible that YouTube won’t deploy PiP functionality to iOS before the conclusion of the current test period. When TechCrunch asked the firm for an estimate of when PiP functionality will be accessible to all YouTube iOS users, a spokesman said the company plans to make it available in the “coming months.” Sigh.