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Netflix finally gets picture-in-picture support on iPad

TechCrunch TechCrunch 15/06/2016 Sarah Perez

It’s taken quite some time, but Netflix has finally released a version of its application for iOS that takes advantage of the picture-in-picture feature introduced last year with the debut of iOS 9. Available on select iPads, this option lets you continue watching a video on Netflix after closing the app using the Home button or by switching to a different application.

When you do so, the video you’re viewing will shrink to a thumbnail. You can also drag this picture-in-picture video around your screen, or resize the viewing window with a pinch gesture.

This way, you can continue to use other apps on your iPad, while still enjoying your Netflix program. You can respond to an email, text a friend, browse Facebook, or do anything else you want to do. And if you want to return to a full-screen view, you just have to tap the video again.

To take advantage of this option, you’ll need to be running iOS version 9.3.2 or higher, and you’ll need to have a supported iPad – either an iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, or an iPad mini 2 or later. (We understand that the feature isn’t currently functional on the iOS 10 developer beta build, however.)

Support for this functionality has been long overdue.

Apple this week just announced its newest version of iOS – iOS 10, which is now in testing. Picture-in-picture mode, meanwhile, was unveiled as part of Apple’s iOS 9 release a year ago. iOS 9 itself debuted to the public last fall. A number of apps have already implemented this alternative viewing option, including Netflix’s rival Hulu, BBC’s iPlayer, WatchESPN, and others. Apple’s FaceTime also supports it. (YouTube, unfortunately, has held out despite implementing other multi-tasking options.)

For those apps that choose to implement multi-tasking features, the results so far have been positive. For example, MLB reported earlier this year that since its rollout of multi-tasking functionality, including also Split View and Slide Over modes, its user base spent 20 percent more minutes per day, on average, watching live video in its app compared with the previous year. Video viewing in total also increased 86 percent to 162 minutes from the prior year, it said.

The impact of adding picture-in-picture mode to Netflix will likely follow a similar course when it comes to video viewing on iPad.

The feature is live now in the updated application on iTunes.

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