One of the most talked-about features on iOS 15 is SharePlay and although the feature was about to roll out during the official release, it’s now readily available on iOS 15.1. In case you don’t know, SharePlay will make video calls with your loved ones more interactive by letting you share and stream supported content like movies, TV shows, music, and other stuff with anyone on FaceTime.
In this post, we’ll explain what SharePlay is all about, how to start sharing media with others in a video call, and what all apps currently support SharePlay on iOS.
Before you start using it on your iPhone, it’s first important that you know what SharePlay is. SharePlay allows you to stream content together with your friends and family you connect with on FaceTime. The shared content can be anything from a movie or TV show on Apple TV to any other shareable content available on a third-party app from the App Store. All this is done within a single video call you make on FaceTime with your family or group of friends.
SharePlay eliminates the need to use additional apps or a clunky setup on your iPhone which you may otherwise need to watch stuff together with your friends remotely at the same time. Since SharePlay is a native feature on iOS specifically made for FaceTime calls, we can expect more apps to be able to allow simultaneous streaming for everyone on a video call.
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Before you start using SharePlay with FaceTime on your iPhone, it’s important that you know that the feature will only work if you’re running iOS 15.1 on your iPhone. This also applies to people other than the host of a video call on FaceTime and for SharePlay to work on each of their devices, they should also be running iOS 15.1. SharePlay will also work on iPads and Apple TVs but both of these devices should also be updated to iPadOS 15.1 and tvOS 15.1 respectively.
Once that’s done, you can proceed to start SharePlay on FaceTime. For this, open the FaceTime app on your iPhone and either tap on the ‘New FaceTime’ button or select the contacts you may have recently contacted on FaceTime.
When you create a new FaceTime call, you can search for the contacts you want to start a video call with or select the required people from the list of suggestions.
To initiate the call with the selected people, tap on the ‘FaceTime’ button at the bottom.
When the call gets connected, you’ll see FaceTime’s new control bar at the top of the screen. From here, tap on the SharePlay icon (the rectangle with a person icon) at the top right corner.
In the dropdown menu that appears, select the ‘Share My Screen’ option.
FaceTime will now show you a three-second countdown so that you prepare to share stuff on your screen.
When the screen-sharing commences, the time section at the top left corner will now show up inside a purple box. This will indicate that your screen is being shared with others who are on the FaceTime call.
The FaceTime control window won’t be persistent at the top but will be accessible when you tap on the purple clock icon at the top left corner of the screen. You can now go to any app you want to present to others in the video call and share stuff from your screen on their iPhones or other Apple devices.
Once you’ve initiated SharePlay with FaceTime on your iPhone, you can start using it in various apps, depending on what you want to share with your friends and family.
1. Stream songs and movies from an app with others
If you want to stream content from a SharePlay-supported app using FaceTime, make sure you’ve initiated the video call and then started SharePlay. After that, head over to the app you want to share content from. In this instance, we’ve opened the Apple TV app on our iPhone. When you launch a SharePlay-supported app, you should see the “Choose Content to Use SharePlay” message at the top of the screen.
When you tap on this message, FaceTime will offer you different options to start SharePlay for the app’s content. You’ll get two options – SharePlay Automatically and Ask Next time. The first option will trigger SharePlay every time you open Apple TV or a supported app when on a FaceTime video call. The latter option will allow you to choose whether or not you want to use SharePlay the next time you play content on the app. Choose the option you prefer.
Next, go to the content you want to stream together with your loved ones using SharePlay. When you play a media or tap on SharePlay-supported content from an app, you should see the prompt below asking whether or not you want to SharePlay the selected content. In this prompt, tap on ‘SharePlay’.
When the media starts playing, you should see the “Started <media>” message bubble at the top. It’s up to others to decide whether or not they want to join in on your SharePlay content.
When someone in a FaceTime call starts SharePlay to share their screen or stream content they’re watching, you’ll see what they’re watching or playing under their name or group name inside the FaceTime controls at the top. If you wish to join their SharePlay session, you can do that by tapping on the ‘Open’ button adjacent to ‘Join SharePlay’ inside FaceTime controls. The ‘Join SharePlay’ portion will also highlight the app from where content is being streamed (in this case, Apple TV).
iOS will now launch the app that’s playing this content which in this instance is Apple TV. When this app opens, you’ll see a new prompt on the screen asking you whether or not to join. Here, tap on the ‘Join SharePlay’.
When you do that, SharePlay will start playing the media or content someone has shared on FaceTime. At this time, the screen will instantly switch to the app’s playback screen and all the controls available to you will be shared with others in the FaceTime call.
You’ll also see the video call screen as a floating window on top of the playback screen at all times unless you hide it yourself.
3. Check what someone is watching
FaceTime offers a clear way of telling you what someone’s sharing through SharePlay without needing to join in on the shared content. To check what others are sharing using SharePlay, all you need to do is look for a video player icon under the names of contacts. Next to this icon, you’ll see what show, movie, or content someone is sharing on FaceTime.
You can tap on this section to reveal more info about the SharePlayed content. On this screen, you’ll see what’s being shared under the ‘Currently Playing’ section. You’ll also see the people who are taking part in SharePlay alongside the app that’s being used for sharing content.
4. Pause/play content for everyone on FaceTime
After you start or join SharePlay inside a FaceTime call, anyone on the video call can control the content that’s being streamed together. This includes not just the person who started SharePlay but everyone else who has joined the SharePlay session. If the content that’s being streamed is media, you can pause or play it at your will and it will affect playback for all others who are currently involved in the same SharePlay.
If the content that’s being streamed is media, its playback controls will almost always show up at the bottom part of the screen. These controls include play/pause, seek forward/backward by 15 seconds, select playback device, subtitles, languages, and adjust playback.
When you play/pause content on SharePlay, the action will appear at the top of the screen of everyone else’s iPhone.
5. Minimize/maximize video call window
One of the biggest talking points of SharePlay is being able to watch something together in addition to being in a video call with others on FaceTime. So, when you’re watching something together with your friends using SharePlay, you’ll also see a floating window that shows you the video feed from everyone.
If you think the video call window is disrupting your media experience, you can hide from the screen by dragging this window toward any portion on either edge of the iPhone. When you hide the video call window, it will minimize to a tiny tab on the edge where you drag the window to and this pill-shaped tab will be marked with an arrow toward the center of the screen.
At any time you wish to see other participants from FaceTime, you can see them by tapping this tab.
When you’re sharing content from an app with SharePlay, you can replace which app the content is played from directly without needing to pause or stop the current SharePlay content. To replace what’s being shared on SharePlay, open the app you now want to stream content from and select the content you wish to play for everyone. This will trigger a prompt on your screen asking whether you wish to replace the content that’s being SharePlayed. inside this prompt, tap on ‘Replace Existing’ to end the last SharePlay activity and replace it with the new one.
Regardless of who started SharePlay on FaceTime, you or anyone else in a video call can stop the current SharePlay session at any time. However, when you opt to leave a session, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to remove yourself from the SharePlay streaming or stop it for all. Just like playback controls, each and everyone using SharePlay can also end a session as well.
There are two ways you can stop a SharePlay activity.
Method #01: From FaceTime controls
The easiest way to end SharePlay is to access FaceTime controls first which you can do by tapping the green/purple color clock at the top left corner of your screen.
When FaceTime controls appear, tap on the SharePlay icon.
In the dropdown menu that appears, select ‘End SharePlay’.
You’ll now see a dialog box on the screen asking whether you wish to stop SharePlay for everyone or just you. Tap on your preferred option.
When you end SharePlay for yourself, you will be removed from the SharePlay activity but others will continue with the activity. When SharePlay is stopped for everyone, you will see who stopped it on your iPhone.
Method #02: From playback screen
Another way to stop SharePlay is from the media playback screen. This applies when you’re watching a movie, show, or match with others and you can only interact with the playback. To stop SharePlay from this screen, tap on the ‘X’ button at the top left corner.
In the prompt that appears, select ‘End for Everyone’ or ‘End Only for Me’ based on how you want to end SharePlay.
With iOS 15.1, users can share and stream content together with friends and family members they’re talking to on a FaceTime call. The media that’s streamed together can be anything from a movie or TV show to music and other supported content. This content can be shared directly from Apple-developed apps like Apple Music or Apple TV as well as other apps from third-party developers like HBO Max, Hulu, Showtime, TikTok, and more. We have prepared a detailed list of apps that support this new feature in the post in the link below.
That’s all you need to know about using SharePlay with FaceTime on iOS 15. \