In iOS 6, you could play YouTube videos in the background using both Safari and YouTube app. Then, Apple got rid of the stock YouTube app. Google launched its own YouTube app but unfortunately, that didn't support background playback.
But you can still play YouTube videos in the background through Safari in iOS 6 and iOS 7. And that's good because even if you've upgraded to iOS 7, you can still play those videos in the background. The only catch is that you have to use Safari.
How to play YouTube videos in the background with iOS 7 Safari on on iPhone and iPad:
- Open Safari
- Go to http://youtube.com/ and play a video of your choice
- Now, press the home button to close Safari. The playback should stop.
- Bring up the Control Center by swiping from the bottom.
- Tap on the ‘Play' button in the media sheet. The video should start playing (in the background, of course). You will also see that the playback shows the title of the video that is currently playing.
- The playback can be controlled – through Control Center – and if you force-close Safari from the multi-task switcher, the playback will stop.
In iOS 6, you had to go the multi-task switcher and swipe right to open the media control. In iOS 7, thanks to Control Center, it is easier to access and control the playback.
Some folks report that any app that uses Apple's Quicktime API will be able to run/play in the background just like Safari does but we haven't been able to test it. For all we know, the official YouTube app is not supported so when you play a video in the YouTube app, it can't be played in the background. Only videos played through Safari worked for us.