Some YouTube users on the web have been opted in to a test of a new picture-in-picture mode, which allows you to continue watching a YouTube video in a small window even as you navigate elsewhere on YouTube’s website. A similar feature already exists today on YouTube’s app for both iOS and Android.
The site 9to5Google was the first to spot the feature in testing, nothing that the video will continue playing in the bottom right of the screen you click elsewhere on the YouTube site. The minimized player also includes controls like play/pause, repeat and watch next, as well as a button for accessing playlists. The name of the video and channel are displayed, too.
There was some speculation that the feature was only appearing for YouTube Red subscribers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case – some users without YouTube’s subscription service have also been added to the test group. It’s unclear at this time how many people are seeing this picture-in-picture mode, but the test is not limited to the U.S., according to reports.
Above: Picture-in-picture mode, credit 9to5Google
It’s common for YouTube to try out new features on a smaller scale, before rolling them out to a wider audience. For example, YouTube tested its dark theme for its mobile app before launching it publicly earlier this month. Presumably, picture-in-picture will become more broadly available in time, as well.
Picture-in-picture mode is commonly found across streaming video services today, aided in part by the introduction of picture-in-picture support on iOS devices with the release of iOS 9. However, it’s not as common on desktop sites. Netflix two years ago added picture-in-picture mode to its iPad app, for example, and YouTube TV’s app added picture-in-picture support in November. Meanwhile, Hulu has been testing picture-in-picture on its beta website as of December, but it hasn’t made its way to its main site yet.
At some point, however, users will come to expect a picture-in-picture mode across any streaming service, on web or mobile. And with YouTube’s continued investment in original programming and a new premium music service, it needs to offer a feature set that’s at least on par with rivals.
A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment on the reports.