One of iOS 14’s great new features is picture-in-picture mode, which lets you watch a video in a small window while doing other things on the iPhone. This can be useful if, for example, you want to watch a YouTube video in Safari while chatting with your friends or checking email. But unfortunately, it seems that YouTube has done something to stop videos from continuing to play when PIP mode is activated – unless you pay for YouTube Premium, that is.
See for yourself. Upload a video to the Safari YouTube website on iPhone and watch it in full screen. If you press to pull up the playback controls, you should see a picture-in-picture icon at the top left of the screen. Tap it, and the video briefly enters its own window before returning to its usual place on the YouTube site. And if you try to return to the home screen while watching a full-screen video, you will see that it flashes briefly in picture-in-picture mode before disappearing.
Picture-in-picture mode still works with YouTube videos in Safari if you use an iPad, whether you have a free account or a Premium account.
It is unclear if this is an error, or if YouTube intentionally removed the functionality. For its own app, YouTube limits the ability to play videos in the background of YouTube Premium subscribers. It seems plausible that YouTube will limit picture-in-picture to its paying subscribers.
Google and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.