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Home / Tips and Tricks / How iOS 14’s Picture-in-Picture Works on Your iPhone (and one important thing it can’t)

How iOS 14’s Picture-in-Picture Works on Your iPhone (and one important thing it can’t)



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Picture in picture shows a thumbnail of a video while you are doing something else on your phone.

Apple / Screenshot by Lori Grunin / CNET

This story is part of WWDC 2020. The latest coverage from Apple̵

7;s annual WWDC developer conference.

Apples iOS 14 Update for iPhone ($ 699 on Amazon) took flak for his own Introduction of “new” functions that Android already has. This is certainly the case with Picture in Picture, a video feature we first saw on Samsung phones before we got to Google’s broader Android operating system. And the feature isn’t new to Apple either – it already exists on the iPad – but the iPhone debut still matters to hundreds of millions of iPhone users around the world.

Plus, Apple’s takeover of the video feature has some additional tricks that Google may want to emulate. Picture in picture and other iPhone features came to the Public beta for iOS 14 in July and will be released to everyone else later in the fall.

Here’s what’s picture in picture, how it works, how it can outperform PiP on Android phones – and its limitations too. (And here you can find out whether iOS 14 works with your iPhone.)

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What is Picture in Picture Video for iOS 14?

Picture in Picture allows you to play a miniature size video in the corner of your screen while you do other tasks on your phone. The video is retained when you open a chat window, scroll through a message in your browser, or tweak your screen settings. So, you can watch a video on iPhone from any screen.

Picture in picture is the real name Apple has given this feature. However, in mobile circles it is commonly referred to as picture-in-picture or PiP.


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iPhone apps that support Picture in Picture in iOS 14

App developers who want to use PiP must use Apple’s Picture in Picture APIs.

This is how Picture in Picture works on iPhone

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You can continue a FaceTime conversation in iOS 14 while viewing your schedule or another iPhone screen.

Apple / Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

No matter what phone you’re using it on, picture-in-picture is a great little convenience feature. They don’t bother to use it. It comes to sheand in a way that should be completely natural and helpful.

Here’s what happens on iPhone. You are viewing a video in a compatible app. It occurs to you that you need to reply to a text, check your email or look up the weather. Swiping up to go home will shrink your video and keep scrolling in a thumbnail. This works with FaceTime calls too.

The thumbnail is permanent, meaning you can switch to any app for as long as you want without the video disappearing. To enlarge the video window, press to zoom. To move it, just drag it with your fingertip.

If the PiP window is in the way, you can swipe it to the side it will dock on and pretty much disappear. This leaves you with a pull tab when you want to take it out again. Best of all, the sound will continue to play even if you dock the video thumbnail.

In picture mode, you can pause, go back or forward to apps that support these controls. You can tap a control to enter full screen mode or close the video completely, such as For example, when you finish a FaceTime call.

What Google and Samsung can learn from Apple

Apple’s Picture-in-Picture feature has two advantages over Android PiP. I felt my eyes light up when Apple demonstrated the docking feature in iOS 14. On Android phones, you can drag a PiP window anywhere on the screen you want. However, if you move it to the edge, it will twirl around like a bowling ball at a kid’s birthday party.

I can’t tell you how many times I closed a PiP window annoying that it kept getting in the way. However, you don’t want to stop the video all the time. The option to resume audio playback after the video is docked is extremely useful for FaceTime calls, allowing you to temporarily make full use of your screen while you talk to the other person.

For example, you may need to follow the instructions carefully but still want them to be able to see your face on video.

Zooming is the other potential highlight with Apple’s picture-in-picture tool. It doesn’t exist for Android. On phones like that Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro ($ 999 at OnePlus)I was able to zoom in to make it a bit bigger and a second attempt at zooming opened it at full size. If Apple’s method offers real scaling (it seems) and works as advertised, this could catch other phone brands’ attention.

What the iPhone picture in picture cannot

Apple’s new feature only works with videos, compared to PiP on Android, which also works with Google Maps. As someone with a deplorable sense of direction, keeping an eye on walking direction while I do whatever else I do has been a lifesaver more times than I can count. Hopefully in the future Apple will include Apple and Google Maps in the Picture in Picture area.

Here is What you need to know about iOS 14 and everything Apple announced at WWDC.


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