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While Samsung has been dipping its toes into the single-screen multitasking world, Google has yet to do the same. According to noted Android and Google tipster ryan_socio (Ryan Matthews, not his real name), that's about to change. Ryan posted a message to The Verge's social user section, detailing an upcoming version of the YouTube Android app that will let users watch videos and interact with the rest of Android at the same time.

2013-07-02 07.13.03

According to Ryan's description of the current test app, you'll start a video using the familiar interface, then send it to a smaller window via a swipe button in the corner. At that point you'll be able to continue browsing videos and whatnot. At the moment this functionality is only working within the YouTube app itself, but a system-wide implementation may be ready by the time the final update is posted.

We've spoken with Ryan on the topic, and he's told us that a much-requested audio-only mode may be coming as well. This would allow you to start a video and switch to another app while the audio continues in the background or when the screen is off, not unlike desktop operating systems. This feature is apparently less locked-in than the multitasking window itself, and may or may not make it in the same update release. Ryan is broadly guessing that the new version of the YouTube app will be available in six weeks or so, though he cautions us that this is a very non-specific estimate.

We tend to pass on rumors like this, but Ryan has a solid history of accurately predicting Google-related events, like the new Gmail interface, Babel/Hangouts, the latest Nexus hardware, Android 4.2's multi-user support, and so on. Multitasking YouTube video is real, and it's in the works.

Note: the screenshot above is from Samsung's mutli-window mode, and used only for illustration.

Source: The Verge

Thanks, Aneesh Mann!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Android Telegraph

    "This would allow you to start a video and switch to another app while the audio continues in the background, not unlike desktop operating systems."

    And not unlike smartphone OS of old like Symbian or Maemo that had such multitasking by default. But great to see Google is doing this, the YouTube is one of the worst ever when it comes to background processing, which is to say it supports zero background processing, haha.

    • Thomas’

      And unlike desktop Windows 8 (in metro mode) which disallows video playback (or basically anything) in the background. Nice step backwards, MS...

      • Android Telegraph

        Haha, yeah, even downloads get paused when you switch to desktop mode. It's like MS decided "let's implement our smartphone multitasking on desktop too, since we're ripping the Metro interface from mobile." Or maybe they just forget to add code for allowing background processing when on desktop, hehe.

        • Thomas’

          YES, which REALLY pissed me off while using a metro-mode torrent client.

        • jm9843

          What?! I wasn't going to use Windows 8 anyway, but that's just crazy.

        • Cory_S

          Even the metro skype client will pause audio in the background for me. I feel like I am in the Twilight zone using Windows 8. How the hell did they think this was a good idea for a productivity system.

  • krazyfrog

    It baffles me why the current app can't do background playback of audio. Even the iOS app does that.

    • Alex Luckett

      One reason: adverts.

      • krazyfrog

        The iOS app has ads as well.

        • Alex Luckett

          Oh, I missed that part of your post. Wasn't the ability to play videos in the background removed a few months ago?

    • Ezzy77

      I've been puzzled by this for ages too. Not to mention you can't really do anything with the Youtube Android app but watch videos, it's shit for every social aspect of Youtube.

      • Daveon Jackson

        I've also wondered why damn near every social part of YouTube is missing, like inbox and comment replies.

        • Isabel Herron

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    • andy_o

      I think the Android app at one point used to be able to do it and then they took it out, IIRC from when I specifically googled for this problem and people in Google's product forums (or maybe groups) were complaining about it. I'm not sure about the iOS app, but didn't Google stop updating it?

      The supposed reason is that they don't want people to use YT as a free music player. For now though PVStar+ works well enough.

      • enoch861

        True statement. Back in the Android 2.2/2.3 days YouTube allowed you to play videos with a locked screen.

        • J.

          iOS used to be able to do it but they purposely disabled it to stop people from using it as a free music player. The stock youtube app used to do it but when Apple removed that one from their standard Apps and you had to download it seperately the YouTube app wouldn't play audio only anymore.

    • Guest

      Copyright maybe?

    • Iggies

      I was under the impression that the last update for iOS killed this functionality.

    • http://tech.xster.net/ xster

      The iOS YouTube app doesn't play audio in background

      • J.

        Stock one did until a few updates ago. They disabled it purposely.

        • edzuslv

          They are doing it Apple way. Disable to reinvent as killer feature. :D

        • Sergey Zolotnitsky

          God, check before you post. What you're talking about was an Apple app that just happen to sport YouTube caption on it - and they, like their Maps, worked with a Google service under the cover.
          Google's YouTube app was introduced to address Apple decision to omit their YouTube app both from devices and from AppStore. Now they're catching up with our expectations created by Apple's app with the same name.

  • FadyMahfouz

    This should be done on all apps right away. what's holding you back Google?

  • Herman

    I would love it if Google manages to implement this real multitasking similar to how Samsung does it in an Android update, possibly 4.3 or 5.0.
    I've got separate apps for browser and video pop-ups already, but I'd really want to see this happen with more apps!

    • Thomas’

      The OS already allows background playback and overlays. It's just the Youtube app which has this artificial limitation.

      • Herman

        Still, I hope Google finds something for developers to easily make their apps 'multitaskable'. Or rather "multiview-able"

  • edzuslv

    Background audio = must have for years

    • ThePhanein

      Have you tried the modified APK? I have background audio + no advertisements.

      • A

        Ah, so you're not supporting the creators in any way, you're just watching their stuff and thinking "screw you". Nice.

        • ron

          Google isnt missing any money and people dont have time for ads on mobile ill watch them on a desktop but phone? no

          • Cory_S

            The creators of the videos get a cut of those ads, not just Google. But to the people playing high and mighty...how many of you use an ad blocker browser extension on your PC?

          • Nasko Hristov

            Ain't nobody got time for that. :D I have never seen an ad on my phone, is it location-based thing?

        • ThePhanein

          Get your head out of your crack, mate.

          It just happens to be a feature on the modified APK that I use.

          Personally, I don't watch very many YouTube channels in the first place and the ones I do--Equals 3, Philip Defranco, ETC--all have alternative ways for me to support them. (I own three of Philly D's monkey shirts) and what about the other content on YouTube that doesn't have advertisements? All the D.I.Y projects I watch or artist videos? I support them by buying their items.

          So the last thing I am thinking is "screw you" unless we're talking about you--Mr. A--in particular than I am definitely thinking screw you.

        • ADSF

          creators dont get any money from ads on mobile.. all the ads money on mobile goes to youtube.

  • Miah

    Android 4.3 features being revealed? :D

    • Daniel DS

      It's not an Android feature, it's a feature in the new Youtube app which will be available to older Android versions too.

      • Miah

        I know that, but I'm just thinking that features like this will be added to all system apps via 4.3 ota.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Not gong to be in 4.3.

  • hyperbolic

    Background audio ?

    • Babs Oyed

      What money?

      • http://gplus.to/bdbplatano M. Puente

        Hyperbolic meant "shut up and take my personal data in lue of money"

  • http://www.asus.co.uk/studyinstyle Adam Smith

    If they introduced a multitask view like this, you wouldn't have to worry so much about tablet apps, as two regular apps side by side would fix the issue (kind of) hope it does get introduced.

    • jellymelly

      It will probably scale back to a phone interface when the simulated screen size is smaller, because Android apps can scale unlike iOS' arbitary sizes

      • PhilNelwyn

        He's precisely talking about apps that don't have a tablet interface in the first place, so it wouldn't turn back to a phone interface, it would just look less bad.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's being looked at, apparently. Not 4.3 for sure but a candidate for whatever comes next, be it 5.0 or something else.

  • MJ

    Postage stamp size video is back! Why would I want to watch a video even smaller then my 5in screen? No thanks, when I want to watch a video and multitask I will use my desktop PC or laptop.

    • jellymelly

      Clearly only useful on 5inch+ phones and tablets
      This would be bomb on Nexus 7

      • Crispin Swickard

        And even more so on the 10, or any other tablets bigger than 7" for that matter. :)

  • http://gplus.to/bdbplatano M. Puente

    Ok, I find it funny that they are adding this feature yet I
    can’t interact with the YouTube video that I’m watching while on landscape mode
    on my nexus 7. If I hold the phone in portrait, I can see the video and
    comments/details/rating etc. The only way around this is with a custom ROM that
    lets you set a custom ppi.

    • Jay

      If you are rooted you can use the Xposed Framework and it's App Settings plugin to change the DPI on a per app basis without the need for a Custom ROM. It's real simple to install too. You just need to install two APKs.

      • http://gplus.to/bdbplatano M. Puente

        I'm tracking. Some ROMs (like Paranoid Android) let you do it on a per-app basis too. Without the need for extra apps tho. Thanks for the tip.

  • jellymelly

    holy crap.... this split screen feature... is a game changer for Android.

    Have been wanting this for a long time. Wow. If only they'll release an API for split screen for any app in 4.3 or maybe 5.0!!!

    • Sean Lumly

      Exactly... I too hope that this isn't a per-app feature, but rather a general feature for the next version of Android. It would make my tablet much more productive, and my next laptop would undoubtedly be some flavour of the Asus Transformer (with an incredible 13+ hours of battery life).

      I hope that the style for the pane-split is minimalist and unobtrusive. I would like a thin black divider (eg. 1 to 2 px), with a small, discreet adjustment nub near the bottom of the seam. The divider in the Samsung feature steals much more screen real-estate than is necessary, and looks needlessly bulky.

      I also hope that some forward thinking soul allows us to also open more than one application instance. Cutting and pasting between two open spreadsheets, or surfing two separate pages side-by-side would be very welcome.

      • jellymelly

        They should steal Windows 8's metro split screen design :P

        • Sean Lumly

          What kills me is the knowledge that people will invariably claim "Android copied Windows 8", if this split-screen feature comes to market.

          I have been using split-screen on my desktop for decades (in various forms). In fact, the desktop interfaces that I have used not only split horizontally, but also allow each pane to be split again, vertically, and so on. Split-screen is much more intuitive, but multi-pane with split-able panes is IMHO the ultimate solution. It's extremely easy to manage and very productive.

          I'm just crossing my fingers that Android's designers develop a quality solution. Android's design choicses have been hit-or-miss (IMO) even with the latest versions. I really hope that this feature leaves nothing to want.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Not in 4.3.

  • CristianoAdiutori


  • jake044

    The only things I want are: actual HD, comment replying, and access to my inbox.

    • Sean Lumly

      I'm betting that G+ commenting will be folded into youtube directly and it will show up in future Android versions.

      But I feel your pain: Youtube on Android is a terribly stagnant project, which is puzzling considering the size of the userbase.

  • xnifex

    Is it just me or did they get rid of the option of clicking on the
    channel name when viewing a subscription to see uploads, activity,
    playlists, & favorites? I can't seem to get that view back & now
    it's harder to view all the playlists since it uses those huge images
    instead on a grid of 2-3 columns

  • Jose Torres

    I can use this for when I work on my car: Word instructions on one side and video on the other. I can think of more than a few times when I could have used this (yes there still are car guys out there).

  • master94

    I hope this isnt just a Android 4.3 makes this default on all apps

    • Ryan Dack

      If chat heads can work system wide without changing the core OS, there is no reason why this would be limited to a new version of Android.

  • Benjamin Pavel

    Oh ?
    Wasn't Google against multi window support a year back (i think it was something with Cyanogenmod)?
    Interesting nonetheless. =)

  • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

    I have wanted this for so, so long. This will really elevate Android to a more usable OS for convenient multi-tasking where I don't have to worry about switching between apps. Switching away from YouTube right now during playback is quite a mistake, 99% of the time you loose whatever video you had buffered.

  • AAA

    It's about time!!!

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