Maybe YouTube is trying to be more like Twitch, and now Twitch is taking a page from YouTube. The game streaming service recently rolled out an update to its apps for Android and iOS that adds a persistent player. As with YouTube's mobile apps, Twitch now lets you keep playing a video while you browse other broadcasts.
For Android users, Twitch has also added an audio-only feature that lets you listen to a game stream while you peruse other apps on your device. Just like with podcast and music apps, Twitch puts the audio controls in the system notifications pull down.
YouTube also has an audio-only feature available to Music Key subscribers.
Why this matters: With YouTube reportedly considering the streaming game, Amazon-owned Twitch needs to make sure it can match YouTube's video chops. Adding conveniences to mobile apps that are similar to YouTube's is an important step toward parity. Next, Twitch's streaming quality will have to match the reliability of YouTube's. Twitch can be strong some days in the streaming department, and weak the next. YouTube's streaming quality even on live streams is rarely poor.
Hands-on with Twitch for Android
Using Twitch's new features is pretty straightforward. You start playing a Twitch stream as usual. When you get bored and want to look at something else, you just hit your device's back button or the in-app back arrow. The game stream will continue playing in its own window at the bottom of the display as you browse the rest of Twitch. You can dismiss the persistent player by tapping the "X" in the window, or you can return to the stream by tapping anywhere else.
Switching to audio only is a little less obvious, but still pretty simple. Once a game broadcast is running, tap the settings cog in the video overlay. This will bring up a video options window; the audio-only setting will be toward the bottom. Tap that so there's a checkmark next to it, then tap Apply and you'll be listening to the broadcast audio in a few seconds.
Twitch's updated app is available now in Google Play and the App Store.