Everything You Need to Know About Apple SharePlay

As announced in the Fall of 2021, Apple updated video chat FaceTime calls to include a screen sharing feature called SharePlay. Whether FaceTiming with one other person or doing a Group FaceTime with up to 32 participants, users can SharePlay movies, music, or simply share their screen. When set up correctly, it's easy to use. With SharePlay and FaceTime, it's like others were sitting next to you while watching a movie.  

SharePlay Requirements
While the SharePlay feature was announced as part of the iOS 15 iPhone upgrade, it wasn't available until the iOS 15.1 update. To SharePlay between iPhones, each phone must be running iOS 15.1 or higher. SharePlay can also be used on Mac computers running Monterey operating system 12.1 or higher, and an Apple TV must be using Apple TV OS15. 

If you are sharing subscription apps —Apple TV+, Apple Music, Fitness+, Disney+, and so forth— all participants must be logged into their accounts on the phone or device where they are using FaceTime. I watched with a family member who uses my login but has a different profile, and there was no issue that we were both logged into the same account. 

How to Watch Together Using SharePlay
1) Be sure everyone has the correct OS version for their device. To see what version your device is running, go into Settings>General>About, and the Software Version is listed. On a Mac, go to the Apple menu and choose "About this Mac."

2) Be sure both you and the other participants have the app you share downloaded on their device. If it's a subscription service, be sure everyone is logged into the app that is being shared.

3) Make the FaceTime call. It doesn't matter who places the call, as all participants may share.

4) While on FaceTime, navigate to the app. You will see a notification that "Content Will SharePlay Automatically." Choose a video by starting to play it. When the dialog box appears, confirm that you want to SharePlay. You can also "Start Only for Me" if you only want to view the video on your device or cancel SharePlay.

Alternatively, on some apps, you might see an icon of a man with a rectangle in the upper right of your screen. When you tap on that screen share icon, a drop-down menu appears with the options to SharePlay Automatically, Ask Next Time, or Share My Screen.  

Basically, when you go to a video streaming, fitness, or other compatible app while on a FaceTime call, it will automatically assume you want to share and send a notification to those with whom you are FaceTiming. Each person can click on the notification to accept and join SharePlay.  

5) Once SharePlay has begun on your phone, any participant can control playback. If someone else pauses, rewinds, or fast-forwards the video, a notification appears naming who took control. 

6) Shared music and videos can be sent to an AirPlay device. When AirPlayed, the FaceTime call remains on the iPhone or iPad so you can see the other participant(s) while the audio and video play on your TV or speaker. 

Also, you can SharePlay directly to an Apple TV through the control center. Press and hold the button with the rectangular TV on the Apple TV remote. It will bring up the control center. If you are using FaceTime on an iPhone or iPad and running SharePlay, and it's near your Apple TV, the Control Center will include an icon to start SharePlay. Now, the Apple TV can control playback, and you can chat with your fellow viewers on your phone.

Apps that Work with SharePlay
In the App Store, there is a list of apps that currently work with SharePlay . We tried a variety of apps. As expected, sharing from Apple TV+ was instantaneous. A notification appeared on the other person's screen, and it was easy to play on the TV. Paramount + and Disney+ also showed the notifications and were easy to share. 

When I was the recipient of SharePlay, I agreed to join SharePlay. It automatically opened the Disney App (either on my phone or with a notification on my Apple TV). Apps that use profiles—Disney+ and Paramount+— required that I choose my profile before going to the video.  

Twitch video could be shared directly from the app. I clicked on a notification in the Twitch app to join SharePlay, and we were watching the same live video feed.

TikTok worked, but it wasn't as straightforward as the other apps. There was no icon to share from inside the TikTok app. Instead, on the FaceTime screen, we chose to Share screen. Then when I switched to the TikTok app, it appeared on the other person's screen. 

We also tried Hulu, as it's listed in other articles as a SharePlay compatible app. Although the share screen option was available, several attempts to share Hulu failed. I contacted a PR source at Apple who confirmed that it wasn't available yet, and was coming soon.

List of Compatible Apps
Disney +
Paramount +
Shudder: Horror & Thrillers

NBA Live Games and Scores

Apple Music 
Unplug Meditation
TuneIn Radio
Digital Concert Hall

BetterSleep:Relax and Sleep
Moon FM
Heads Up Charades
Cameo- Personal Celeb Videos
LookUp: English dictionary
Piano with Friends
Carrot Weather
Night Sky
Redfin Real Estate 

Create or Play together
Kahoot! Play & Create Quizzes
Flow: Sketch, Drawn Take Notes 
Explain Everything Whiteboard
Apollo for Reddit 
Bluebird - Focus Timer
Popshop Live - live shop together

Navi- will create subtitles in your FaceTime call
Translate Now

Workout Together
Apples Fitness Plus
SmartGym and Asana Rebel: Get in Shape

Share Screen Only Shares from Compatible Apps
Note that you can't share videos from apps that are not compatible. If you share your screen and play a video in an incompatible app, the window will be blurred. Likewise, if the other FaceTime participant doesn't have a subscription, the video will appear blurred on their screen.

How Does it Compare?
If you want to watch a video with someone who doesn't have an Apple device with the system requirements, there are other options. TwoSeven and Scener offer video chat while viewing a movie. The Netflix Teleparty Chrome extension offers texting while watching together. In-app sharing from Hulu, and Amazon Prime Watch Party also only offer texting. Communication in Disney+ GroupWatch is limited to emojis.

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qemard68's picture

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larrymartin's picture

Followed these steps and SharePlay on FaceTime became a regular thing for movie nights with my family. No issues so far and it is such a cool feature.
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