YouTube update brings picture-in-picture to iOS

YouTube adds picture-in-picture to iOS app

If you like to scour the deepest recesses of the Internet for everything from culturally-significant documentaries to the best recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich, you'll be happy to hear that Google has released version 2.0 of its YouTube client for iOS.

The new picture-in-picture functionality allows you to continue browsing and searching YouTube's content while watching a video.
The new picture-in-picture functionality allows you to continue browsing and searching YouTube's content while watching a video.

Despite the major version bump, the app remains, at least on the surface, largely unchanged from its predecessor. Both the user interface and functionality are essentially the same, but the search giant has introduced a couple new features designed to make the software "stickier" by allowing users to do more with less effort.

Watch while you search

The first addition comes in the form of a sort-of "picture-in-picture" function; while watching a video, you can swipe down with your finger, causing the video to shrink into the right-hand corner of your screen.

This, in turn, reveals the app's search function, which you can then use while your original video continues to play in the background. At any time, a simple swipe to the left allows you return the original video's page to its full size.

The ability to watch and search at the same time should be a welcome addition to those who use YouTube for researching anything from cooking recipes to do-it-yourself techniques. In my quick tests, it worked well, although the animation that the app uses to switch between views felt a bit clunky.

Play, boy, play!

A few additional UI tweaks round out the update. For example, a "play all" button now appears when you search for playlists, making it easier to enjoy an entire selection of videos at one sitting.

On the iPad, the comment section of the interface has also been relocated to the right-hand side of the screen, where it is immediately visible under a shortened list of suggested videos.

The app's user interface has undergone a few changes—none of them particularly dramatic, but all geared towards bringing the service's interactive features, like comments, to the forefront.
The app's user interface has undergone a few changes—none of them particularly dramatic, but all geared towards bringing the service's interactive features, like comments, to the forefront.

Personally, I find this to be a step backwards; users who are interested in the comments are likely to go looking for them, while everybody else benefits more from a readily-available selection of related videos. Then again, comments are undoubtedly very popular, and it makes sense that Google would want them in the spotlight in an attempt to involve more users in YouTube's social aspects (and, of course, capture more of their computer time).

Odds and ends

Overall, the app feels like a solid improvement; the interface is cleaner and easier to use, and all the important bits and pieces are immediately at hand without having to go hunting for them. This is even more evident when you compare the native client with YouTube's Web-based interface, which feels positively byzantine and is both slow and hard to use.

The picture-in-picture function, in particular, is an excellent addition: It brings an element of multitasking that is not normally available to iOS apps. If you're looking for the solution to a particular problem, being able to quickly play a video and still continue to browse the results of a search can save a lot of time.

Unfortunately, the app still exhibits a few oddities that Google ought to have tried to figure out by now. For example, the playback interface does not provide a volume control; it is, of course, easy enough to use the buttons on your iOS device to make the sound louder or quieter--not a huge headache, but annoying if you're, for example, just trying to relax your way through a playlist of music videos.

Like its predecessor, YouTube 2.0 is a Universal app that requires iOS 6.0 or later, and is optimized for the iPhone 5.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileinternetGoogleiosvideomobile applicationsyoutubevideo softwareInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Marco Tabini

Macworld.com
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?