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How to play YouTube in the background on Android and iOS

YouTube is the internet’s replacement for the TV, so it’s only natural that we’d use it as our background noise provider, however Google doesn’t make that easy on mobile devices. Unless you have a YouTube Red subscription, YouTube only plays as a foreground app, meaning you can’t use your phone and listen to music or podcasts on YouTube at the same time. Well, unless you cheat a little.

Here’s a handy list of steps to do it yourself, starting with Android:

  1. Open www.youtube.com in the Chrome browser.
  2. In the three-dot menu at the top right, check the “Request desktop site” box.
  3. Navigate to the video you want to listen to and press play.
  4. If you’re shown a warning saying YouTube wants to send you notifications, accept it.
  5. Exit the Chrome app and you’ll be able to resume playback from the notification menu.

And on iOS:

  1. Download the Dolphin web browser to your iOS device.
  2. Open www.youtube.com in Dolphin.
  3. Navigate to the video you want to listen to and press play.
  4. Exit the Dolphin app and you’ll be able to resume playback from the iOS Control Center.
It’s obvious Google knows that being able to just listen to audio from YouTube is a desired feature, which is why the company reserves it as a perk for YouTube Red subscribers. Browsing around online, you’ll also see quite a few other methods for enabling background play, some of which Google has already neutralized. But even so, the present workarounds for both Android and iOS users are laughably easy. Google would probably prefer that you don’t circumvent its systems, but hey, if it’s that easy to do, why not?

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