Just when we thought we’d come up with a clever hack to enable picture-in-picture mode for YouTube in iOS 14 — a privilege YouTube would prefer to charge you for — the company has wised up and crafted a workaround that eliminates this specific hack. But there are still a few more tricks you can try.
This all came about because YouTube decided to try and keep picture-in-picture mode as an exclusive feature of YouTube Premium on iOS 14. One could easily argue this is a clear violation of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines 3.2.2, which lists the practice as “unacceptable:”
“Monetising built-in capabilities provided by the hardware or operating system, such as Push Notifications, the camera, or the gyroscope; or Apple services, such as Apple Music access or iCloud storage.”
If you’re expecting Apple to go after Google and block the YouTube app for this blatant violation, well, this isn’t quite an Epic Games situation. That means if you try using our previously suggested hack — pulling up YouTube in Safari to view videos in picture-in-picture mode — it’s no longer going to work unless you’re signed in with a YouTube Premium subscription.
There are still ways around this annoying modification from YouTube. If you request the “desktop site” of YouTube within Safari — by tapping on the “aA” icon to the left of the address bar and tapping that option — you should still be able to picture-in-picture YouTube (for now, anyway).
Your other option is to pull out your iPad, where the original trick of watching YouTube videos in picture-in-picture mode via Safari should still work.
You can also try using this handy shortcut, courtesy of software engineer Jonas Reitmann, to launch the YouTube videos you’re watching in an iFrame, which will allow you to then go picture-in-picture mode. There’s also this shortcut, courtesy of Reddit, though this option is a wee bit more complex (and requires you to install the free app Scriptable). It’s good to have options, just in case YouTube starts trying to close more of these loopholes in its efforts to force you to spring for YouTube Premium.