Google’s latest YouTube updates for iOS and Android feel vaguely reminiscent of one of Samsung’s custom Android features.
The new YouTube apps enable you to continue watching videos while you navigate elsewhere in the app. It’s basically “picture-in-picture” on your smartphone screen — something we also saw in Samsung’s “pop-up play” feature in its latest Galaxy smartphones, which plays video files in a tiny window.
Given the size constraints on smartphone screens, there are likely only a few feasible ways to implement video multitasking. Google likely didn’t set out to mimic Samsung’s feature — it probably just didn’t have another choice.
When you navigate away from a video’s page, it’s minimized to the lower right corner of your smartphone’s screen. You can drag up on the thumbnail video to get back to its main page, or swipe left or right to dismiss it entirely. (Samsung’s implementation one-ups Google’s by letting you actually move the video window around the screen, with YouTube’s multitasking you basically forgo the lower right portion of the screen entirely.)
Regardless of the feature’s inspiration, multitasking is a much-needed addition to the mobile YouTube experience. Now you can experiment with new videos while continuing to search for interesting content. You no longer have to worry about wasting a few seconds on a worthless YouTube clip (which happens often when you’re searching for things like old TV clips or movie trailers).
The new apps also upgrade the YouTube experience when broadcasting video to a Google TV, Chromecast, or PlayStation 3 on your television. Now the YouTube apps show you a preview screen before starting a new video, letting you directly start playing a video or add it to a queue.