Android 8.0 Oreo Feature Focus: Picture-in-Picture

Posted on September 23, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 20 Comments

Android 8.0 Oreo Feature Focus: Picture-in-Picture

Android 8.0 Oreo supports picture-in-picture (PIP), so you can do two things at once. Assuming, that is, that you can find an app that supports this functionality.

This chicken-and-the-egg problem will be familiar to those who wish to take advantage of the similar Compact Overlay feature that debuted in Windows 10 version 1703. So far, only a few in-box apps, like Movies & TV and Skype, support it.

These things take time, of course. And the first step is just adding the capability to the platform. Which Google has now done with Android.

I don’t have a complete list of which apps support PIP on Android, but Google Chrome, Google Duo, Google Maps, Google Play Movies & TV, and YouTube are among them. (That latter app, unfortunately, requires a paid YouTube Red subscription to work in PIP.) The commonality here is that most of these apps can play video, exactly the type of content one might want to use PIP. (The exception is Google Maps.)

You can see which apps support PIP by navigating to Settings > Apps & notifications > Advanced > Special app access > Picture-in-picture. This interface lets you disable PIP on an app-by-app basis since it can be annoying if you’re not expecting it or don’t wish to use it.

Frustratingly, how you use PIP varies from app-to-app. Google Chrome, for example, will only utilize PIP for video, and it will only do so when that video is playing full-screen. And, in a further wrinkle, you—obviously, in retrospect—cannot play YouTube-based videos via Chrome in PIP unless you’re paying for YouTube Red.

But once you’ve met all the requirements, it works as expected: Play the video in full-screen, press your Home button, and you return to the home screen as expected, but with that video still playing in a floating PIP window.

You can do a number of things with this window: Drag it to a new position on-screen, close it, access basic playback controls, and return the video to normal full-screen mode. You can also run another app, of course: That app will run under the PIP window so you can do two things at once. (Also, if you select the PIP window, it will increase in size briefly, presumably to make it easier to drag around.)

You can also drag the PIP window down to the bottom edge of the screen to dismiss it. This doesn’t “close” the video per se, meaning that you can still access it from the notification shade if you’d like.

I assume Google Play Movies & TV and YouTube work similarly, but I wasn’t able to get the former to work and I don’t pay for YouTube Red.

With Google Maps, PIP will work once you start navigating to a location. So when you start navigating and press Home, that PIP window will appear over the home screen and over any apps you subsequently run. And, yes, voice navigation feature works in PIP too.

Unlike with video playback windows, however, Google Maps doesn’t provide any special controls. You can move the PIP window around, select it to return Google Maps to a full-screen view, or swipe it off the bottom of the screen to dismiss it. If you do dismiss it, Google Maps will continue to navigate, and you can access your directions from the notification shade or by returning to the app.

Basically, PIP works as expected with the exception of Google Play Movies & TV. Hopefully, that will be updated soon. And we’ll see some healthy third-party app support for this feature in the near future too.


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