Firefox now displays subtitles for videos in Picture-in-Picture mode in the Nightly channel
Picture-in-Picture mode is a priceless feature in browsers, it is a great way to watch videos in a small window on your monitor, or your second screen while working on something else. Firefox introduced PiP mode in version 71, which was released in 2019.
Mozilla added various tweaks to the feature ever since. The organization outlined its plan to improve PiP mode in January 2022, and the first of those improvements has now landed in the Firefox Nightly channel. The latest version of the browser brings support for an important feature, subtitles.
Subtitles and closed captions are an underrated feature, in my opinion. Not only do they help non-native speakers of a language understand the dialogue, they are a must-have option for people with hearing impairments, to enjoy the narrative in videos and games.
Here is some context related to Firefox's QoL update that explains how it worked until the new build was released. Videos that play in the Picture-in-Picture mode in the stable version of the browser do not display closed captions in the panel. Instead, the subtitles are shown in the video's tab, while the media played in the pop-up. That sort of defeats the purpose of the PiP panel, for users who rely on the accessibility feature.
Subtitles in Picture-in-Picture mode in Firefox Nightly
Let's see how the update addresses the problem. Open any video in Firefox Nightly, and switch to the Picture-in-Picture mode by clicking the pop-out button. It should display the subtitles right inside the PiP panel. The browser supports subtitles uploaded by the content creator, and closed captions that are auto-generated by streaming services.
I tested the new feature with YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and it worked fine on all three platforms. However, the subtitles didn't appear in PiP mode when I played videos on Disney+ Hotstar. That is quite understandable, as it is an experimental feature, and Mozilla's announcement in January did mention that they were testing the video wrapper scripts (that enables this feature) with just 4 streaming services as a start, this service was not of them. Hopefully, the developers will expand support for more websites in the future, once they have worked out the kinks with the current version.
Limitations in Picture-in-Picture mode
There is one minor issue with the player. You can't change the subtitle's settings directly from the Picture-in-picture panel in Firefox. Regular users may be aware that the pop-up player uses settings of the web player, e.g. to change the resolution or playback speed. So, if you want to change the language or other subtitle options, you will need to set them in the parent tab to make the PiP window reflect the same settings.
Download Firefox Nightly 100.0a1 from the official website, and test the feature yourself.
PiP mode combined with uBlock Origin and SponsorBlock offers an excellent experience while watching YouTube videos while multitasking. That said, I also like Opera's implementation of PiP, the automatic video pop-out is nice, and it also has the time seek bar, which Firefox doesn't, and could be useful additions.
I think adding subtitles in Picture-in-Picture mode is a great quality of life update. What do you think?Advertisement