YouTube picture-in-picture mode rolling out to some people without YouTube Red, doesn’t work in all videos
With the introduction of Android 8.0 Oreo, developers were finally able to design their applications with support for picture-in-picture mode. This works great with video playing applications as it enables the user to shrink the player down to a small square which can then moved around the screen while doing something else on the phone. Until now, picture-in-picture mode with YouTube was restricted to only those who were paying for the monthly subscription service, YouTube Red, but we’re seeing multiple people around the world report that it has begun working for them without the need to pay for YouTube Red.
The practice of locking away some of the features that make Android such a great mobile operating system behind a paywall has left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth. Google spent multiple months talking about Android 8.0 Oreo’s new picture-in-picture mode so people got excited about all the various applications that it could be used with. Some applications, like VLC, have added the feature in with a free software update and many thought that Google would have done the same with YouTube.
However, Google ended up locking this feature away behind a monthly subscription just like they have done with background playback. The thing is, it looks as if Google has suddenly changed their mind as we’re seeing a number of people using this feature without ever having paid for YouTube Red. After initially being reported in /r/GooglePixel the thread was crossposted to /r/Android and this is where we saw how far-reaching the new change has gone. It has been confirmed that the change works on other devices (not just the Google Pixel phones) and that it even works outside of the United States
The original person reporting the feature says they were running version 13.16.55 of the YouTube application, but not everyone with this version has the feature. It also appears to not work for all YouTube videos. So it looks as if this is a server-side switch that could slowly be making its way across the entire Android 8.0+ user base.
Source: Reddit User cfcnhobbes51