Even if you’re using a phone with a relatively small screen, it can be very convenient to watch a video with Picture-in-Picture (PiP). You can play a music video while checking your Twitter feed or chat with a friend while you watch a favorite movie. In iOS 14, Apple has now made it possible to use PiP on your iPhone or iPad. And it’s extremely easy to use.
Just swipe to your home screen while watching a video. The video continues to play while you check your email, reply to a text, or do whatever else you need to do. You can even zoom in or out on the video by using a pinch to zoom. or you can wipe it completely out of the way. (It continues to play. An arrow on the side of the screen shows you where to swipe it back.)
If you want to view the video in full screen mode again, just click the full screen icon in the top right corner of the video. Close it completely by tapping the “x”
Using PiP on an iPad works very similarly. You just start your video and look for the PiP icon (a box with an arrow pointing to a smaller box). If your iPad has a home button, you can press that instead. You can then move, enlarge or reduce the video on your screen, and move it to a separate screen the same way you would with an iPhone. You can then expand it with the “Full Screen” icon or close it with the “x”.
Not all apps work with PiP. Gadget Hacks has a list of all the current (as far as they know) apps that support PiP on iOS 14, and it’s pretty sure the list will expand. With one exception: YouTube. If you’re using the free YouTube app, you’re out of luck. YouTube only allows PiP for premium subscribers.
A YouTube workaround – for now
There’s a kludge for running a free YouTube account in an iPhone PiP that works (or at least for now). It’s very similar to how you can hear music from YouTube in the background. You do:
- Open youtube.com (Not the YouTube app) in your Safari browser
- Tap the AA icon in the top left corner and select Request Mobile Website.
- Start your video and tap it to show it in full screen mode
- While playing, tap it for the usual controls. The PiP icon should be in the top left corner. Choose it.
You are now playing the YouTube video in PiP. Note, however, that the PiP window will disappear once the video is over. If you want to play a different one, you’ll have to go through the entire process again. And of course, there’s no guarantee that YouTube won’t even fill that particular void at some point.