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YouTube picture-in-picture feature falls short of being really useful

August 21, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez

YouTube's iPhone and Android app has a new look and a new picture-in-picture capability. The feature is neat, but the mobile app update could have used one more useful enhancement.

With the new feature, users minimize the current video they are watching by turning their phones into portrait mode and swiping down on the screen.

This slims down the video player into a stamp-size viewer on the bottom-right corner of the phone, giving users the rest of their screen to explore or search for other videos to watch.

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"Think about it this way -- you can watch a video about making the perfect fried chicken while searching for homemade salted caramel sauce recipes," YouTube said in a blog post announcing the feature. 

This is a great new feature, but the update could have been even better if YouTube had added the ability for users to place videos they find in a queue. The video in the queue then could play automatically when the user has finished watching the first video.

For now, you can select a video to "watch later" or add to play list, but you would have to manually go back to the list to play the video.

Despite missing out on adding a handy feature, the app update does have other minor improvements.

Users can now search for playlists on their smartphones, just as they already could on YouTube's website. Also, when using the YouTube app with Chromecast, users now see a new screen where they can either choose to play a video or to instead add it to a queue for Chromecast. Users could do both actions before, but the new menu shows the options more prominently.


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