Update 3:50 PM: A previous version of this post claimed that a Picture-in-Picture feature is rolling out to iOS users on the YouTube app based on a since-deleted announcement from the company. Unfortunately, the streaming giant has now walked back that news and informed Gizmodo that the PiP update will only apply to YouTube TV subscribers and will continue in testing for YouTube Premium subscribers. That story follows below.
Finally, you can watch YouTube TV in a floating window while doing whatever else on your iPhone.
On Monday, Google issued a statement retracting an earlier report that stated YouTube on iOS 15 and up would be receiving an update to enable picture-in-picture mode, or PiP. “The tweet from our support handle was mistakenly referring to the picture-in-picture rollout to iOS users on YouTube TV, which took place a few weeks ago,” said a Google spokesperson.
YouTube users have been waiting for the PiP mode to come to the iPhone and iPad for quite some time. The trial is still available for YouTube Premium members. “We’re continuing to test PiP on iOS for the mobile YouTube app with Premium members globally and hope to make it available to all iOS users (Premium and non-Premium) in the US soon,” wrote the Google spokesperson. “PiP is currently available to all Android users in the US”
I did manage to get YouTube TV to work on the iPhone 13 Pro almost instantly, and, frankly, it’s a much smoother experience than what I’m used to on Android. The preview window is much larger than what Android defaults to, and you can move the window around the screen to easily place it alongside any other app you’re using in the background. When you’re finished, tap once on the preview window, then tap the “X” to shut off the app.
There are plenty of reasons to be bummed that a feature as seemingly simple as the ability to watch something in a tiny window while doing something else on your smartphone is not available on the iPhone. For one, it makes it easier to go into “goblin mode” while streaming through the latest binge-watch. My Android devices have had PiP capabilities for a while now. I’ll often have YouTube TV or another compatible streaming service playing in the corner while browsing Reddit or surveying my catches in Pokemon Go. Apple fans will just have to catch ’em all the old-fashioned way for now.