Playing YouTube Videos in the Background of Your Android Device with the Screen Turned Off

YouTube is a place to watch funny and/or cat videos. It’s also a great place to listen to music, lectures, talks and podcasts. Clearly, there’s a large YouTube audience that wants to listen to YouTube content in the background. Background Audio is a headlining feature in the $9.99/month YouTube Red subscription, and there are countless options for rooted users to hack around this functionality.

But what if you don’t want to pay for YouTube Red and you’re unrooted? Well, there are couple of options for you as well. Recently, my colleague Mahesh wrote about FireTube, an app available in Amazon’s Underground third party app store. But, it’s a YouTube replacement app. You’ll need to use the app’s UI to look for videos.

If you’re like me and you just want to use the plain old YouTube app that you are used to and still want the background audio stuff, Black Screen of Life is for you.

Relax Windows users, this doesn’t have anything to do with Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). The app’s name is symbolic of what it does – turns the screen black while the content is playing and still has a beating heart.

Yeah, it’s a hack. But a clever one.

It uses your phone’s proximity sensor to turn off the screen. So when you put your phone upside down, it will turn off the screen while the content is still playing in the background. It’s the same as putting it in your pocket. You can also get real clever and just put a finger on the proximity sensor to achieve the same effect.

When you launch Black Screen of Life, you’ll see a big red button with the word “Disabled” written underneath. Tap on it to enable BSOL.


You’ll then see a popup explaining how the app works and how you can go to “Settings” -> “Compatibility Mode” if the app doesn’t work for you.

And now the app is active and is monitoring your proximity sensor. When you cover it, there will be an overlay on the screen, giving you a 4-part countdown until the screen goes black, accompanied by a vibration feedback. The phone will also vibrate when the proximity sensor is left uncovered.


No matter which app you’re in and what you’re doing, the app will turn off the screen when the display is blocked. And yes, curious reader, this extends way beyond the YouTube app. I checked.

You’ll now see the BSOL widget in the notification center. When you want to disable this proximity sensor monitoring stuff, just tap on that notification.


Also, here’s a pro tip: Once you’ve covered the proximity sensor, let it be. Don’t press the Power key. That will actually lock your phone and will stop the background YouTube audio. Another pro tip: don’t keep BSOL turned on at all times – it might be disruptive to how you use and handle your phone.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for YouTube-ing? Does the lack of a powerful queue frustrate you (it does me). What’s your policy of viewing comments? Share with us in the comments below.