iPad tip: How to use other apps while listening to YouTube recordings (e.g. to view scores, libretti, etc.)

Posted: June 2, 2013 in apps, forScore, iPad, listening, Uncategorized, video, websites

One annoyance I’ve had with the iPad is that normally there isn’t a way to simultaneously listen to YouTube recordings in the background while using other apps.  If you try to switch to another app while the YouTube video is playing, the audio will stop.  I ran into this situation a couple of time recently: once when I wanted to listen to a Le nozze di Figaro YouTube clip while viewing the Bärereiter score on the excellent Neue Mozart-Ausgabe website, and another time when I wanted to listen to a bunch of Wolf lieder on YouTube while reading their texts and translations on The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive (also an excellent site) and consulting a song literature reference book that I digitized and put on my iPad.

I did some Googling and discovered a few ways around this limitation.  It may depend on what version of iPad and/or iOS you have.  As of this writing, I have an iPad 3 running iOS 5.1.1 (because I’m jailbroken, and like a fool, I neglected to upgrade to the latest jailbroken iOS 6 version (6.1.2) before the window closed).  Here are some ways to get around the YouTube hurdle:

Jasmine app, which is an alternative viewer for YouTube and currently available on iOS 6+ only.  I’ve heard that it’s supposed to support background audio – but I’ve also seen app reviews suggesting that this capability might have gone away in the iOS 6 version (possibly due to limitations in iOS 6).  At any rate, if it doesn’t work, you won’t lose, because the app is free and I’ve also heard several users sing its praises as a great alternative to YouTube’s native app/website.

Play Tube app, which is another alternative viewer for YouTube.  This is what I use, since it also supports iOS 5.  The background audio definitely works for me.  I fire up the video in Play Tube, and once it’s done buffering and actually starts playing, I can switch over to my other apps like forScore, Safari, or iBooks in order to view scores, libretti, and other reference materials while listening to the recording on YouTube.  You can also create locally-stored playlists within the app and have those play in the background.  I think there is also a way within the app to log in to your YouTube account and create/manage/play the playlists in your account, but I haven’t tried that yet, so I can’t confirm.  Sometimes there is a little hiccup in the audio the first time I switch from Play Tube to a different app while the video is playing, but it’s not too big a deal.

There’s also a method for playing background audio from YouTube that’s documented in a number of places on the web and doesn’t require installing a new app:

  1. Open Safari and navigate to the YouTube website.
  2. Find the video and start playing it.
  3. Double-click the Home button on your iPad to bring up the recent apps bar. The audio will stop.
  4. Switch to the other app you want to use.
  5. Double-click the Home button again on your iPad to bring up the recent apps bar.
  6. Swipe left to right on the recent apps bar until the music controls appear.
  7. Press the play button. The audio will resume and you can now use the other app while the audio plays in the background.

Frankly I don’t like this method as much because it requires more tapping and swiping than just using an alternative YouTube viewer app.  Also, you have to go back to the music controls and press the fast-forward button to advance to the next track in a playlist.  But it’s useful as a backup method if for some reason you can’t use an alternative YouTube viewer app.

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