One of the greatest features introduced in iOS 14 is the picture-in-picture mode, which allows users to enjoy media content while also doing something else on their devices, which is quite handy for those who love to multitask.
However, it seems that YouTube isn’t too excited about the new Safari feature, as it has made some changes that block the picture-in-picture player from working in the case of non-premium users, a change that seems geared towards encouraging more iPhone users to opt for a YouTube Premium subscription.
Blocking the functionality
Some users have made videos that show the way in which the functionality has been blocked. When the picture-in-picture mode is activated in Safari a movable video window will load briefly before returning to the default position on the page. When the home button is hit, the PiP player will surface and vanish in a few seconds. Since the feature worked properly during the iOS 14 beta trial, the appearance of a sudden bug is questionable.
In a surprising twist, users can enjoy the videos in PiP mode as long as they are embedded on a different site, which strongly infers that the changes made by YouTube are limited to the official YouTube website.
As some may have expected, the features work without issues if the user is logged in with a YouTube Premium account. Users who own an iPad can enjoy the picture-in-picture feature even if they don’t have a paid YouTube subscription, a fact that makes the whole situation even more complicated.
For now, it is hard to say if the issues are caused by bugs or if YouTube had made intentional changes to hamper the functionality. Since the YouTube app limits background play to premium users, the latter seems to be more likely, but more information could be shared in the future.