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Home / Tips and Tricks / How iOS 14s picture-in-picture works on your iPhone (and one important thing it can’t do)

How iOS 14s picture-in-picture works on your iPhone (and one important thing it can’t do)


Picture in Picture holds a thumbnail of a video being played while you do something else on your phone.

Apple / Screenshot by Lori Grunin / CNET

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

7;s WWDC Annual Developers Conference.

Apples iOS 14 update for iPhone ($ 699 on Amazon) has taken flat for his introduction of “new” features that Android already has. So it really is with Picture in Picture, a video feature that we first saw on Samsung phones before we came to Google’s broader Android operating system. And the feature is not new to Apple either – it’s already on the iPad – but its iPhone debut is still significant for hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide.

In addition, Apple’s take on the video feature has some extra tricks that Google might want to imitate. Picture in picture and other iPhone features were added iOS 14 public beta in July and will be released to everyone else later this fall.

Here’s what Picture in Picture is, how it works, how it can surpass PiP on Android phones – and its limitations. (And here’s how to tell iOS 14 works with your iPhone.)

Read more: iPhone’s radical new home screen changes are not enabled by default. What you need to know

What is picture in picture video for iOS 14?

With Picture in Picture, you can watch a thumbnail size that plays in the corner of the screen while you do other things on your phone. The video sticks when you open a chat window, scroll through a news story in your browser, or fine-tune the screen settings. So you can watch a video on iPhone from any screen.

Picture-in-picture is the real name given to this feature by Apple, but it is widely known in mobile circles such 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 take advantage of PiP must use Apple’s Picture in Picture APIs.

How Picture in Picture works on iPhone


You can keep a FaceTime conversation running in iOS 14 while viewing your schedule or any other iPhone screen.

Apple / Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

No matter what phone you use it on, picture-in-picture is a good little convenience feature. You do not go out of your way to use it. It’s coming you, and in a way that should be completely natural and helpful.

Here’s what’s happening on the iPhone. You start watching a video in a compatible app. It appears to you that you need to reply to a text, check your email or look up the weather. When you swipe up to go home, your video shrinks and continues to scroll in a thumbnail view. This also works with FaceTime calls.

The thumbnail image is persistent, which means you can switch to whichever app you want for as long as you want without the video disappearing. To enlarge the video window, pinch to zoom. To move around, just drag with your fingertip.

If the PiP window gets in the way, you can drag it to the side where it ends up and everything disappears, giving you a tab to drag when you want it out again. Here’s the best part: the sound continues to play even if you dock the video thumbnail.

In Picture-in-Picture mode, you can pause, rewind, or advance in apps that support these controls. And you can press a control to go to full screen or close the video completely, say if you’m done with a FaceTime call.

What Google and Samsung can learn from Apple

Apple’s picture in picture function can have a leg up on Android PiP in two ways. I felt my eyes light up when Apple demonstrated the docking feature in iOS 14. On Android phones, you can drag around a PiP window anywhere on the screen you want. But if you move it to the margins, it bounces around like a bowling ball at a child’s birthday party.

I can not tell you how many times I have closed a PiP window upset that it was always in the way. But you do not always want to stop the video. The option to keep the audio playing after docking the video sounds extremely useful for FaceTime calls, allowing you to temporarily make full use of your screen while talking to the other person.

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

Pinch to zoom is the second potential award with Apple’s image in image tool. It is not available for Android. On phones like Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus 8 Pro ($ 999 on OnePlus), I was able to zoom in to make it a little bigger, and a second zoom attempt opened it to full size. If Apple’s method gives you real scaling (as it seems to do) and works as advertised, it may make other phone brands pay attention.

What iPhones picture in picture does not do

Apple’s new feature is announced to work only with video, compared to PiP on Android, which also works with Google Maps. As someone with a deplorable sense of direction, it has been a lifesaver more times than I can count on keeping an eye on directions while doing whatever I do. Hopefully, Apple will expand in the future to include Apple and Google Maps as part of Picture in Picture.

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

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