SharePlay was added to FaceTime in 2021 as a way to beef up the social aspect of its video calling app in the wake of the global pandemic, offering users the chance to consume media together in sync over a video call.
Probably the most popular use case for SharePlay is the ability to simultaneously watch a movie or TV show while chatting about it with your friends, but you can listen to music and even play games together too.
But how does it work, and which services are supported? Let’s take a look.
First, ensure everyone who wants to participate is running iOS/iPadOS 15.1 or higher. (If not, ask them to go to Settings > General > Software Update).
Start a FaceTime call as normal with as many contacts as you like.
Once you’re in, return to the Home Screen by swiping up on the Home bar or tapping the Home button. Your call should continue in a floating Picture in Picture window in one corner of the room – simply drag it to another corner if it’s in the way.
Open any compatible video streaming app and load up whatever you want to watch. When you hit play, you should be given the option to Play for Everyone. Tap this and anyone else who subscribes to the service will be shown the video along with their own suite of playback controls. Others can continue on the call but they won’t get to watch along. Anyone in the FaceTime group can play or pause the stream, but each device has its own volume and subtitle settings.
When SharePlay went live, its compatibility list included many of the main players in the streaming game. We can confirm that Apple TV+, Disney+, ESPN+, HBO Max, Hulu, MUBI, Pluto TV, Showtime, and Twitch all work over SharePlay. Sadly some really big names including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube don’t yet work with SharePlay. We’re hoping they will add compatibility in the future, but that’s down to each provider to decide and there’s no guarantee they will play ball with Apple.
Head back to FaceTime for the full experience. Or if you’d rather chat by text so as not to interrupt the audio of the movie you’re all watching, head to your messaging app of choice and the video stream will continue playing in Picture in Picture mode.
No surprise that this works more or less the same as watching something together. Start a FaceTime call, open a compatible music streaming app and start something playing. Anyone with access to the same music library can listen in. Note that if the audio doesn’t automatically play for the others, they’ll need to tap Join SharePlay.
Apple Music is of course supported, but few of the other big services are. There’s currently no Spotify support, for example – perhaps because Spotify wants people to use its built-in group sessions instead. You can listen to Podcasts via, you guessed it, the Podcasts app – or Moon FM if you’re not a fan of Apple’s app. Relax Melodies is also compatible if you want to chill out as a group.