Play YouTube in the Background on iOS
YouTube is world’s largest repository of music, humor, entertainment, spiritual and educational videos. You name the genre – YouTube is sure to have it. Since most popular and upcoming musicians seem to have a presence on YouTube, many people use YouTube as a music player too. Watching the video isn’t always necessary to enjoy the content. Sometimes the audio is enough, or all that’s needed – and this is especially true for music.
If you’re on your desktop or laptop, you can play YouTube videos in the background by minimizing the browser/switching to another tab and then opening other programs or surfing the web as usual. But, what do you do when you’re on your iPhone (or iPad)?
The official Google YouTube app does not, at the moment, support background video playing. There was support for this feature in the older version of the apps, but it has been removed in the newer versions. Thankfully, there is a workaround to this, so you can still play YouTube videos in the background on iOS (though it will only work on devices running iOS 7 and iOS 8).
Playing YouTube Videos in the Background on Safari (and other web browsers)
While the YouTube app won’t support background play, the same is not true for the web player you can access from any web browser app you have on your iPhone.
Open YouTube and search for the video you want played in the background. Tap on the video and let it play. Next, tap your home button and return to the home screen. The video will stop playing (the music/audio stream will also cut off).
Now, to turn the video back on (that is, to start the audio stream), open the “Control Center” by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. In the control center, you should see the name of the video (the URL) that you buffered on the audio player. You can hit the play button to start the video – it will pick up from where it was cut off.
Now you can minimize the control center and open other apps. The video will continue to play in the background and you will be able to listen to the audio stream.
This method works in iOS because when you “close” an app by tapping the home button, you don’t actually close the app – you just minimize it or suspend its function. When you hit the play button in the Control Center, you just restart the app.
If you press the screen lock button, though, the audio will stop again. However, you can reopen the control panel and restart the video from there. If you lock the screen again, the video will continue to play in the background.
Things to Keep in Mind While Playing Videos in the Background
When you play videos in the background, please note that you will use the same amount of data as when you would while watching videos. This means that even if all you hear is the audio, the video is being downloaded to your iPhone (or iPad too). If you are on a data plan, you may want to connect to a Wi-Fi network first before playing videos.
Please note that you will not be able to queue videos (use a playlist) to run in the background. Well, it is possible to queue videos, but you will have to manually move forward to the next video from your browser – simply pressing the forward button in the control panel won’t work.
Also, if you want to surf the web while listening to a video, you won’t be able to do it from the same browser. For example, if you are using Safari to watch a YouTube video, you won’t be able to surf the web from it – opening a new tab will pause the video. Instead, you could install another browser (like Chrome) to surf the net and let YouTube play on Safari.
Related Reading: The 5 Best Alternative Browsers for iOS
All of this sounds a little limiting, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a lot of YouTube videos to play, this basic method to play them in the background should work fine for you.
However, if you want to turn YouTube into a music player, you may want to download some apps that let you queue videos into a playlist(s) and let you listen to just the audio. Here are some apps that you could try.
Musi will play let you add your favorite songs from YouTube (and other websites like SoundCloud and Library) into playlists. You can treat Musi like you would any other music player. Just let your song play in the background and do other things on your phone. To be able to use Musi, though, you must be connected to Wi-Fi or cellular network.
You won’t be able to save songs on your phone, though you will be able to save playlists for faster playback later. Musi is ad-supported, but you can get rid of the ads for $0.99.
Musi has some advanced features, like letting you customize song names and album names, which set it apart from most of the other background music streaming apps on the Google Play store.
Tuner is just like Musi, except it’s much more basic. It is also completely free to use, and you don’t have to watch ads either.
Just like Musi, Tuner streams YouTube in the background over a Wi-Fi or 3G network. Tuner will also let you save videos in playlists for later viewing, though it doesn’t have many customization features.
We have heard rumors that Google is working on an audio streaming service (like Spotify) for YouTube in the future. It is still negotiating with video owners about playback rights, though, which could take a while. In the meantime, you can listen to YouTube videos in the background by buffering them on your browser and then using the Control Center or just by downloading one of the apps we picked out for you.