YouTube background playback on iOS 6.1
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I’ve noticed that since I put iOS 6.1 on my iPhone, I can’t seem to play YouTube music in the background any more. I listen to a lot of music through YouTube, and I actually stopped using Google’s YouTube app since it didn’t let me do this, so my YouTube links would still open in Safari. Since iOS 6.1, however, it seems that Safari doesn’t do this any more either. Is this just me, or did Apple actually break this in the update? It’s really upsetting, since it stops playing when you turn the screen off too. I’m betting Android users don’t need to deal with this nonsense.
A: Actually, it’s traditionally been worse on the Android side, as it’s ultimately Google that is prohibiting background audio playback from YouTube, likely due to music licensing restrictions. The iOS app—particularly the one that was built-in prior to iOS 6—was actually one of the few apps that allowed this.
Unfortunately, you’re correct that this capability appears to have been removed in the iOS 6.1 update. It’s unclear exactly why Apple did this, however, it would appear that Google may be cracking down on the use of the YouTube API where background audio is concerned. In the FAQ for the official YouTube iOS App, Google states that “Some of our partners in the music industry prohibit background playback”, suggesting that this may also be the result of pressure from the music industry, either on Apple directly or via Google and YouTube.
It’s unclear whether this is a deliberate change in iOS 6.1 or simply a bug that may be resolved in a future update, but there are fortunately a few ways around this, for now at least. The simplest solution is to look to third-party apps such as McTube (free, iTunes link), which works fine to keep playing audio in the background, although you will experience a brief audio crossfade as the app switches from video playback to an audio-only mode.
The other downside is that third-party apps cannot open YouTube links directly, so you will be forced to either copy and paste via the iOS clipboard or simply search out your YouTube content directly within the McTube app. A Pro version of McTube is also available for $2 that adds the ability to cache videos for offline viewing, however while YouTube’s Terms of Service are fuzzy regarding background audio, offline caching does appear to be expressly prohibited so it’s unclear whether this feature will continue to be supported in the future.
Alternatively, if you’re using a jailbroken device, there’s actually a Flex tweak available that will enable background playback on the standard Google YouTube app. Since this leverages Google’s official YouTube app, it’s unlikely that the app itself would lose access to the YouTube API, and it’s otherwise considerably more difficult to block this behaviour on a jailbroken device. The downside, of course, is that you have to jailbreak your device, with all of the additional hassle that entails.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple plans to begin iPhone manufacturing in India starting with the iPhone SE
- Rumor: iPhone 8 to eliminate Touch ID in favor of Facial Recognition
- Report: Apple working on 4K for next-generation Apple TV
- Apple announces WWDC 2017
- Apple patent points to possible new Smart Keyboard with dedicated ‘Share’ and ‘Emoji’ keys
- Jaguar announces in-car Apple Pay payment option at UK Shell gas stations
- Shareholders seek more diversity in Apple upper management
- Apple to fight Nebraska ‘right to repair’ bill
- Apple eyeing another supplier for future OLED screens
- Facebook announces Apple TV app along with iOS app video improvements
- 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
- Revogi Smart Lightbulb, Smart Lightstrip, Smart Candle + Smart Meter Plug
- Audeze iSine10 In-Ear Headphones
- MOCACARE MOCACuff Connected Blood Pressure Monitor
- Apple AirPods
- Elgato Eve Motion
- Olloclip Core Lens Set for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Logitech Pop Home Switch Starter Pack
- Elgato Eve Light Switch
- iHome iPLWBT5 Docking Clock Radio for iPhone and Apple Watch
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10