Google may want us to watch YouTube a certain way (perhaps to keep us focused on the precious ad space), but it’s not too difficult to circumvent this restriction, either through browser tricks or apps. Here’s how to get YouTube to play in the background.
The easiest and most cost effective solution is to use the FireFox or Chrome browser rather than the YouTube app. This browser will allow you to continue to listen to the video of your choice with the screen off or while doing something else on your device.
Make sure you request the desktop site, or your phone may automatically load the YouTube app. / © ANDROIDPIT
If you find the YouTube app opening automatically when you try this, just go to the three-dot menu at the top right, and check the “Request desktop site” box.
You can download FireFox below. If you want more features than this, read on.
One way to play YouTube in the background is to purchase a YouTube Red subscription, which costs $ 9.99 per month. This comes with the feature called ‘Background Play’ which allows your video play in the background when you open different apps or turn the screen off.
An added bonus of YouTube Red is that it also removes YouTube ads and includes a subscription to Google Play Music. If you already have Google Play Music then you’ll get YouTube Red for free.
YouTube Red gives you plenty more features. / © ANDROIDPIT
Use a bubble browser
Bubble browsers such as Flynx, Flyperlink or Brave (formerly: Link Bubble) are another option. They float above the user interface and can be minimized to a small icon. In such a bubble, you access YouTube’s mobile website and start streaming. YouTube videos will continue to run even when the screen is turned off or your system is running another app.
With Brave, the power saving mode must be set to “Off” first – otherwise the video will stop with the default settings when you minimize the bubble or turn off the display.
Flyperlink (left) and Brave. / © Screenshot: ANDROIPIT
Not every bubble browser is the same: Fast access to YouTube is not easy with Flynx, because the bubble browsers are optimized to collect links from Twitter clients, Facebook or other apps. Brave and Flyperlink allow you to enter a URL directly – there’s hardly anything standing in the way of YouTube fun. The bubble browser solution has the advantage that you can also use other video services with it.
NewPipe: open source app for background playback
NewPipe is a handy app, but unfortunately it is not available in the Google Play Store. Instead, you’ll need to check the alternative app store, F-Droid. In F-Droid you will find many free open source apps. The service also takes care of automatic updates of the apps installed.
To be able to install F-Droid and the apps it contains, you must allow the installation of apps from unknown sources. To do this you’ll need to manually enable it in your phone’s security settings.
First you have to allow the installation of unknown sources. / © ANDROIDPIT
Now you can go to the F-Droid website in your smartphone browser and download the FDroid. apk. After the download the installation should start immediately. If not, tap the completed download notification to start it.
After installation you can start F-Droid immediately. But initially the list of apps will be empty. F-Droid must first download the currently available apps from the server. This may take a few seconds. After that you can type in NewPipe in the search field. In the search result tap the Install buttonto install NewPipe.
If you tap on Run, NewPipe starts up and with a red search bar at the top and an otherwise completely white screen. Type in the name of your desired song or artist to search.
Ziggy Stardust plays Major Tom in the background. / © ANDROIDPIT
In the search results, tap the headphone icon in the top right corner to hear the song of your choice in the background. If the quality is not good enough for you, you can change the level on the left.
Have fun playing YouTube in the background!
Pop-up video apps
Another option for playing YouTube in the background is Awesome Pop-up Video Pro. Now, it doesn’t play YouTube in the background, as such, rather it plays them in a small, movable pop-up window, which can be dragged to the side of the screen to achieve a similar effect. You can download the app below.
Please note that although this app allows you to play YouTube in the background, it won’t let you play them with the screen off. The Mozilla Firefox option does.
YouTube plays in the background while you’re free to run other apps. / © AndroidPIT
With this app you’ll pay only a few bucks as a one time purchase instead of a monthly payment from YouTube Red. You won’t have access to the great features available from the monthly package deal but it’s a cheap and quick way to play YouTube videos in the background.
There are other pop-up video apps available, however, such as Floating Tube and various others which advertise this function. They all vary somewhat in look and function, and we haven’t had time to try them all. Let us know your favorites in the comments!
Do you have any other methods for playing your YouTube videos in the background? Tell us in the comments.