SharePlay makes its way to iOS 15 as an update following the latter’s September 2021 release. What is SharePlay and how do you use it?
What is SharePlay?
Apple has positioned SharePlay as a tool those of us spending our lives peering at our mobile devices can use to enjoy something like social contact with our chums.
The idea is that you can make a FaceTime call with others during which you can share and experience content together. You can listen to music, watch TV or movies, and share your screen, all using SharePlay.
In future, SharePlay may become an adjunct to some productivity apps, as Apple is also publishing APIs to extend what it can do to other apps..
How to begin a SharePlay session
When you are in a FaceTime call (including Group FaceTime conversations) you can begin a SharePlay session by tapping the SharePlay button. Alternatively, just begin playing some music or TV from the Apple apps and you’ll be given the chance to share it with everyone on the call. Images of your friends will appear in Picture in Picture mode to the lower right of the content screen. This is persistent, so you can continue to use other apps.
During a session you can choose to keep your camera switched on so everyone can see how you react to what you’re watching, or turn it off and chat over audio. When you want to watch a shared movie with uninterrupted sound, you can tap the Messages button in the FaceTime controls and jump to a shared thread.
Where are the SharePlay controls?
You can invoke controls for SharePlay from any app enabled for it on iOS. The controls are accessible from the top left corner of the screen – just swipe down. A strip featuring your iCloud ID image or MeMojii appears at the top of the screen. It will show you what you are sharing with a small icon on the lower right of your image, the title of the TV show, movie or music you are playing, a giant red End button to terminate the call and five controls:
- Send a message to the group.
- Route your audio output
- Turn your microphone on or off
- Turn your camera on or off
- Share your screen or media
You can also use multiple devices, so you may be in a SharePlay session and want to watch the movie on your Apple TV while continuing to chat and use your iPhone. All the devices associated with your account on your network will know you are using SharePlay and you can use any of these as your video output.
What features does SharePlay offer to share movies and TV?
Anyone participating in a SharePlay session gets access to synced playback and shared controls. That means when you watch a movie with a group of friends using the feature the really annoying one can press pause, play or rewind whenever they need to take another look at just what happened. SharePlay also provides intelligent volume controls. These dynamic controls automatically adjust audio so that you can chat comfortably while watching content. Content is streamed directly from the apps on each particpants device.
What features does SharePlay offer to share music
Anyone who is in your FaceTime call can add songs to the shared music queue, which makes it a nice way to discover and explore each other’s music tastes, or just hang out with music while you both do other things.
What features does SharePlay offer to share screens?
The screen sharing feature may come in useful. You can share images, or even browse the web for research, or show your friends how good you’ve become at Demolition Racing with this. It’s also a useful way to help people solve problems.
What SharePlay limitations exist?
You need to be running an Apple device and be connected using FaceTime. You can then run movies and TV shows from the Apple TV app together. Some third-party services, including Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, NBA, TikTok, Twitch, ESPN+, Paramount+ will also support it. Third-party music streaming services are also building in support.
Apple has said the introduction of SharePlay is delayed. We’re thrilled with the high level of enthusiasm we’ve seen from the developer community for SharePlay, and we can’t wait to bring it to users so that they can experience your apps with their friends and family in a whole new way,” it told developers.
Learn all the new features
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