After all those years, YouTube TV is finally adding picture-in-picture to its iOS app

YouTube TV is adding picture-in-picture support to its iPhone and iPad app “soon” but it will be arriving a few years later than we would have expected in an ideal world.

  • YouTube TV’s product chief has acknowledged that support for watching shows and movies in a picture-in-picture window on iPhone and iPad is coming to its iOS app “soon”, but stopped short of providing a firmer launch date.
  • In its typical fashion, intentionally or not, the search company is taking its time to implement important core features of Apple’s platforms across its popular iOS apps. For those asking, Apple debuted picture-in-picture on iPad several years ago.
  • YouTube TV is also working on surround sound support as we speak.

Does YouTube TV for iOS support picture-in-picture?

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, sat down with Catie Keck of The Verge to discuss picture-in-picutre and other new features coming soon to YouTube TV for iOS.

Here are the takeaways:

  • A wider rollout of picture-in-picture support in the app to iOS devices
  • An expansion of 5.1 surround sound support to more devices
  • Making additional show data visible in landscape mode
  • Updates to the app’s library and guide

Mohan wouldn’t commit to a specific launch date for the picture-in-picture feature on iOS beyond saying it should—“hopefully,” as he put it—arrive in the next few months. “Hopefully” is the key word here: Mohan’s choice of words makes it appear as if the launch date for picture-in-picture in YouTube for iOS is a moving target, and it probably is.

At the time of writing, the feature was unsupported in YouTube for iPhone and iPad. According to a support document on the Google website, “you can turn on split screen to use other apps” while watching YouTube TV on your iPad. “We don’t currently offer picture-in-picture on iPhone and iPad devices,” it reads.

Surround sound on YouTube TV expanding to more devices

As to when surround sound support might expand to other devices, Mohan admits that Google has been a lot slower than the team would have liked. He went on to say that “situation should be dramatically better” in about six months when 5.1 surround sound on YouTube TV should roll out to other devices that support it.

The rollout of that feature has certainly been a lot slower than I would’ve liked. My hope though is, hopefully over the next six months, you start to see that in a lot more devices out there as they go through their various stages of software upgrade cycles. I think that if we’re chatting in six months, that situation should be dramatically better.

So there you have it. YouTube for iOS will finally support Apple’s picture-in-picture feature so you can continue watching something in a floating window as you use other apps on your iPhone or iPad. Better late than never! Read: How to reduce Netflix data usage

Google is too slow in adding iOS-specific features to its apps

But no matter how you look at it, this is yet another example of Google being terribly slow to embrace Apple’s core platform features. For starters, Google has supported picture-in-picture in the Android version of YouTube TV for quite a long time now.

Picture-in-picture was first implemented on iPad in the iOS 9 update, which dropped in September 2015. The arrival of iOS 14 and tvOS 15 in September 2020 brought the feature to the iPhone and iPod touch devices, as well as the Apple TV set-top boxes.

Summing up, Google has had a few years to adopt Apple’s system-wide picture-in-picture feature in some of its biggest apps for the iOS platform. Given that YouTube TV has been gaining traction with users, Google honestly cannot, and shouldn’t, be excused for dragging its feet with picture-in-picture support on iOS.

After all, don’t forget that the search giant is still rolling out picture-in-picture support in YouTube for iOS to all customers, a process that began in early 2021.