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IPhone: You Can Unlock YouTube’s Picture-in-Picture Mode in iOS14

IPhone:

iPhone: Illustration for article titled How to Unlock YouTubes Picture-in-Picture Mode in iOS 14

Screenshot: David Murphy

Picture-in-picture mode is officially coming to iOS 14, but the one app you’ll want to use it with is a little late to the game. YouTube is rolling out support for picture-in-picture mode right now, so you probably won’t be able to try the feature even with the iOS 14 public beta on your iPhone unless you turn to a few clever hacks.

Them’s the breaks. And I feel you there; I’ve been running the iOS 14 beta for months and I still can’t run YouTube in picture-in-picture mode—at least, not using the YouTube app. But there’s a simple workaround you can use to get picture-in-picture access on iOS 14 right now. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best you’ll be able to do until YouTube rolls out this feature to everyone.

To try it out on iOS 14, all you have to do is pull up YouTube’s main site in Safari. Tap your way through to play a video, and then embiggen it to full screen mode using the little square icon in the lower-right corner.

iPhone: Illustration for article titled How to Unlock YouTubes Picture-in-Picture Mode in iOS 14

Screenshot: David Murphy

Once you’ve done that, look for the picture-in-picture icon, which looks like one big window pointing to a smaller window. You can’t miss it. (It’s to the right of the giant “X.”)

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iPhone: Illustration for article titled How to Unlock YouTubes Picture-in-Picture Mode in iOS 14

Screenshot: David Murphy

Your video will shrink to picture-in-picture size, and you can now swipe out of the YouTube viewer and do whatever else you want to do on your iPhone (or iPad). You can move the video around on your screen as needed, though you’ll only be able to stick it to the four corners of your device (alas).

iPhone: Illustration for article titled How to Unlock YouTubes Picture-in-Picture Mode in iOS 14

Screenshot: David Murphy

If Safari isn’t your browser of choice, you’ll be thrilled to know that this trick works in Chrome and Firefox, too—via exactly the same instructions. It works with any video on YouTube, including all of the service’s music videos. That’s different than than the native picture-in-picture setup Android users get in the YouTube app, which prohibits picture-in-picture for musical content unless you’ve subscribed to YouTube Premium.

I mention that because it’s unclear whether using picture-in-picture mode within the iOS YouTube app (once it’s made available) will be similarly restricted. Google has a lot more control over Android than iOS, and it’s possible that Apple’s APIs will force all YouTube content to be treated similarly—if you can play it within the app, you should be able to watch it picture in picture.

Otherwise, the only other way I’ve found to use picture-in-picture mode within the iOS 14 YouTube app is to make use of a third-party workaround that drops a shortcut in your Share Sheet to a hacked-together picture-in-picture mode. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s worth taking some time to explore if you just have to have picture-in-picture mode right now and don’t want to open up a browser window to
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