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How to use iOS 14’s picture-in-picture mode to watch video

With iOS 14, Apple has brought some intriguing new features to your iPhone (6s and newer). One of the most hotly anticipated of those is support for picture-in-picture (PiP) mode, which lets you watch a video while you perform other tasks on your phone. Apple’s iPadOS already supports this feature, but iOS 14 marks the first time you can play thumbnail-sized superimposed video on the iPhone.

Right now, PiP works with video from Apple’s signature apps like Safari, iTunes, Podcasts, Home, and FaceTime. Apple has a PiP API for iOS developers, which means we should it in other apps in the future. It’s up to independent developers to support PiP in their own apps.

Viewing PiP in Apple’s apps

The PiP mode is enabled by default. But you can toggle off the feature entirely by going to Settings > General > Picture in Picture > Start PiP Automatically. If you have a video playing on your iPhone and swipe up from the bottom of the screen or press the Home button on older phones, whatever app you switch to, the video will pop up in its own window and continue playing.

As the video plays, you can reposition or resize it with a pinch to zoom gesture, and it scales nicely. While in PiP mode, you can continue to control playback by pausing or moving backward or forward to view the part you want. And you can tap a control to go full screen or close the video by tapping the X at the top left of the video window. If you no longer want to view the video it’s easy to get rid of it. Just swipe the video to either side of the screen and it will disappear as the audio continues to play. A small tab lets you drag the video back to your screen.

The larger your iPhone screen, the more benefit you’ll derive from PiP. While the feature works on smaller screens, there are more limited placement options if you want the largest viewer.

Use Mobile Safari to play YouTube videos

While the first app that comes to mind for the PiP feature would be YouTube, so far, that is one high-profile app for which this mode is not operative. But there’s no reason to fret. You can still view YouTube via PiP by accessing your selected video within Apple’s Safari browser. It’s a little awkward, but it’s doable via the following steps.

  • Launch your YouTube app and play a video.
  • Tap the Share button and then tap the Copy Link icon.
  • Launch the Safari app on your iPhone and paste the link in the URL bar.
  • Tap the play button to start playing the video. YouTube’s media player automatically gets replaced by Apple’s video player.
  • Tap the Full Screen icon so the video plays in its own window.
  • Tap the PiP button at the top of the screen.
  • Go back to the Home screen and launch any other app you want as the video continues to play on the screen.

Picture-in-Picture has been a sought-after feature that will likely alter the way many people use their iPhones. The ability to view video while reading or texting puts a brand new spin on multitasking. Sure, this feature has been available on Android for a while, and now many will rejoice that Apple has some skin in this game.

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Jackie Dove
Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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