While proponents of the Android operating system (OS) have been touting picture-in-picture (PiP) as a new and exciting feature for the past couple of years, the idea and the app itself were first introduced to television back in 1976.
In fact, in the late 20th century and early 21st century, PiP was promoted as a premium feature available on more expensive TVs of the same level. era.
However, the technology had significant drawbacks, among which there were significant bandwidth requirements, and at the time it was not possible to send a second data stream to the same display device without duplicating hardware, cables, and everything else needed to deliver the original content.
In other words, your TV needed two receivers, two cable boxes, and so on to achieve pretty much the same effect we do today, wirelessly, from a single stream of data transferred to the high-definition devices we carry with us. our pockets.
Today’s PiP – a single stream of content playing inside a small window or window, inside a large window playing different data – is conceptually the same anyway as in the last century, but the Internet and microtechnology have turned PiP into something, not just into Something bigger. cool, but at the same time there is something really practical.
With PiP technology in Android, you can, for example, discuss dinner plans with a friend while searching for places on Google Maps, or perhaps watch YouTube videos while replying to your emails. All you need is a smartphone or tablet running Android 8.0 or later.
Availability and Compliance
As cool as PiP is, perhaps its biggest drawback is that there aren’t many apps that support it yet. As you can see in the Picture-in-Picture section of the App Control Panel (Settings) on my phone shown in the image below, most of the compatible apps are those that ship with Android, such as Chrome, Maps and YouTube.
The good news is that the prevailing video players including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube are PiP compatible, and more are coming soon.
Google initially tried to exclude YouTube users unless they were Premium (or YouTube Red) subscribers and Netflix and Prime Video were not PiP compatible.
However, all of this has changed and we are gradually seeing more and more applications such as VLC (popular open source video platform), WhatsApp (video chat), Facebook, Instagram, Google Duo and Pocket Casts (video podcasts) deploying PiP. functionality.
Some of them, like the WhatsApp video chat app, which allows you to hold video conferencing while doing all sorts of other tasks on your phone, are quite handy.
The latest version of Android already includes picture-in-picture; all you have to do is make sure it is enabled for the specific applications you want to use this feature with.
Most likely, this has already been taken care of, but let’s make sure. (The following instructions may differ depending on the manufacturer of your smartphone and the operating version used.)
- Go to settings.
- Select Apps & Notifications, or if you are using Samsung or another device with Apps and Notifications under separate subsections, select Apps.
- From the More Vert menu (three vertical dots in the upper right corner), choose Special Access.
- From the Special Access list, select Picture-in-Picture.
This displays a list of PiP compatible apps. Depending on your phone and OS version, under each app name and icon in the list, there is some indication (most likely â€œAllowedâ€ or â€œYesâ€) as to whether PiP mode is enabled. My Samsung Galaxy, for example, displays “Allowed” for On. And “Not Allowed” for Off.
Unless, of course, PiP is enabled for the apps you want, tap the app’s name in the list and then move the slider to enable it.
Use picture in picture
The PiP instance consists of a small, borderless floating box (no scrollbars or other controls) that only displays content (until you touch it, which is what we’ll get to shortly). The controls are hidden to save space.
Converting a standard application window to a PiP window is very easy. When the app is in full screen mode, press the Home button. The app should turn into a small frame, similar to the bottom right corner of the following screenshot.
From here, you can drag the PiP window anywhere on the screen. When you click on it, the PiP window displays full screen, close, and, depending on the application, several other controls. The image below, for example, shows the controls for Settings, Full Screen, Close, and Video Navigation.
When you turn the phone, the PiP window appears
It’s important to note that often, whether an app is displayed in PiP mode depends on what it is doing or what mode the app is in. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, other video players, even Chrome, should actually play the videos. ; some, for example, will not use PiP in standby or pause mode.
Chrome cannot display picture-in-picture until you enter full screen mode; Google Maps will use PiP in full screen navigation mode but not in some other scenarios, etc.
In addition, picture-in-picture does not start when a paused video is displayed, but you can, on the other hand, pause and (in some applications) otherwise navigate the video timeline in PiP mode without returning to the fully functional application. again.
Finally, you can disable PiP for any application by going back to the “Special Access” subsection in the settings mentioned earlier. Just in case, here are the instructions again:
- Open Settings.
- Select Apps & Notifications, or if you are using a Samsung or other device with Apps and Notifications in separate subsections, select Apps.
- On the More Vertical menu (Three vertical dots in the upper right corner) select “Special Access”.
- From the Special Access list, select Picture-in-Picture.
Another reason to come back to this list is that this is the easiest place to find out which applications installed on your mobile device are PiP compatible or when they were updated.