How to Use Picture-in-Picture on Your Android

This Android Oreo feature lets you watch your favorite videos while multitasking

Picture-in-Picture (PiP) is a feature available on Android smartphones running Android 8.0 Oreo and later. It allows you to multitask. For instance, you can search for a restaurant while video chatting with a friend or watch a YouTube video while getting directions on Google Maps.

It may sound gimmicky, but it's a nice feature for heavy multitaskers who jump from app to app. PiP is also convenient if you want to casually watch a video rather than pay full attention, such as a funny video that's taking too long to get to the punchline.

What We Like
  • Excellent multitasking tool.

  • Super easy to use.

What We Don't Like
  • YouTube requires a subscription.

  • Limited app compatibility.

Instructions in this article applies to Android 8.0 or later.

This feature may not be something you use every day, but it's definitely worth giving it a try. Follow the instructions below to set it up and use it.

Apps Compatible with Picture-in-Picture

Since this is an Android feature, many of Google's top apps support picture-in-picture, including Chrome, YouTube and Google Maps.

However, YouTube's PiP mode requires a subscription to YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red), its ad-free platform. The way around that is to watch YouTube videos in Chrome rather than using the YouTube app. PiP mode also works with YouTube TV, the company's streaming service.

Other compatible apps include VLC, an open source video platform, Netflix (with an update to Android 8.1), WhatsApp (video chats), Facebook and Instagram (videos), Google Duo, and Pocket Casts (video podcasts).

Find and Enable PiP Apps

This feature isn't compatible with all apps, and it's up to developers to indicate whether an app supports this function (they don't always do this). You can see a list of all the apps on your device that support picture-in-picture. First make sure your apps are up to date, then:

  1. Go to Settings on your smartphone or tablet.

  2. Select Apps.

  3. Select 3-dot menu at the top.

    Screenshots of getting to Special Access in Android.
  4. Tap Special Access.

  5. Select Picture-in-picture.

  6. Then you get a view list of apps that support picture in picture and which ones have PiP enabled. Select the app from the list to change permissions.

    Screenshots to allow Picture-in-picture in Android.
  7. Toggle the slider on\off for Allow permission effectively enabling or disabling PiP for your selected app.

How to Launch Picture-in-Picture

There are a few ways to launch picture-in-picture, depending on the app. With Google Chrome, you have to set a video to full screen, then press the Home button.

YouTube no longer allows PiP within Chrome. This applies to non-YouTube videos.

  1. Navigate to a website that contains a video.

  2. Tap the fullscreen option. (Usually show some sort of frame or placeholder.)

  3. Select Play.

  4. Once the video begins playing, press Home.

You can then move the video around your phone screen for best placement.

Screenshots of a video playing in picture-in-picture.

On the YouTube app, you can just start watching a video, then press the Home button.

With some apps such as VLC, you have to enable the feature in the app settings first, as you can see in the screenshot above. On WhatsApp, when you're in a video call, just tap on the preview of the video to activate picture-in-picture. 

Picture-in-Picture Controls

When you've figured out how to launch PiP in your favorite app, you'll see a window with your video or other content on the bottom left of your display.

Tap the window to look at the controls: Play, Fast Forward, Rewind, and a Maximize\Fullscreen button that brings you back to the app in full screen. For playlists, the Fast-Forward button moves to the next song on the list. 

You can drag the window anywhere on the screen, and pull it to the bottom of the screen to dismiss it.

Some apps, including YouTube, have a headphone shortcut that lets you play audio in the background if you don't need visuals.