Watching a movie or listening to a song is often more satisfying when you’re sharing the experience with other people. But unless friends and family can drop by your home at a moment’s notice, that type of shared experience may not always be feasible, at least not in person. Instead, why not go virtual, courtesy of Apple’s SharePlay feature.
Many video streaming services already have virtual watch party features, but only SharePlay allows you to share video and audio content from multiple apps on Apple devices. You first gather people together on a FaceTime video call. From there, you can share TV shows and movies through Hulu or Disney+, songs through Apple Music, and videos on MasterClass, TikTok, and Twitch. You also have the option to share your screen.
In order to participate in a SharePlay session, any participating mobile device must be running iOS 15.1 or higher or iPadOS 15.1 or higher. Open Settings > General > Software Updates on your device. You’ll be told that your OS is up to date or be prompted to download and install the latest update. Mac support is set to be released with macOS Monterey 12.1.
To share content from an app that requires a subscription, all viewers must have their own subscriptions. To watch a purchased movie or TV show, all participants must also have purchased the item in order to watch it together.
SharePlay currently works only with certain apps. Apple’s App Store Preview page for SharePlay offers a list of supported apps:
Before you can share content through FaceTime, you must make sure that SharePlay is enabled on your device. Go to Settings > FaceTime > SharePlay and turn on the switch for SharePlay if it’s not already on. Everyone you invite to the call must do the same.
You can then launch FaceTime and place a video call to the individuals who want to join the shared activity. (If you need help placing a group FaceTime call, check out our guide.) Now, let’s look at how SharePlay plays out with a variety of supported apps.
To share songs from Apple Music, you all need to have Apple Music subscriptions. After starting your FaceTime call, open Apple Music. Select an album or song from your music library or from Apple’s online selections and tap the Play button.
A menu should pop up with three options: SharePlay, Start Only for Me, and Cancel. To share your current song with the other people on the call, tap SharePlay. The song should start playing on everyone’s devices while on the call.
However, we encountered mixed results with Apple Music and SharePlay. A song would play sometimes and then not play another time. In several instances, the music would indicate that it was loading but never managed to play. Other times, an error message said “this media type is unavailable while using SharePlay in the Music app,” even though it was the same music that worked before.
If you bump into similar problems, there are certain troubleshooting steps to take, such as ensuring that everyone’s device has been updated to iOS 15.1 or iPadOS 15.1, signing out of FaceTime and then signing back in, and even restarting your devices.
After starting your FaceTime call, open the Apple TV+ app. Start playing a movie or TV show and the SharePlay menu will appear. To share your current video with the other people on the call, tap SharePlay.
The people on the call will need to tap Open on the Join SharePlay prompt and then tap the Join SharePlay. The video then starts playing on all devices.
In the case of TikTok, the other people on the call don’t need the app installed on their devices in order to view video content. Start your FaceTime call and open the TikTok app. Tap the Choose Content to Use SharePlay notification at the top of the screen. Tap the last icon in the FaceTime Video toolbar at the top and select Share My Screen. You can then fire up a video and the other people will see it on their screens.
The other people on the call also don’t need Twitch installed to watch video streams. Start your FaceTime call and open the Twitch app. Tap the Choose Content to Use SharePlay notification at the top of the screen. Tap the last icon in the FaceTime Video toolbar at the top and select Share My Screen. Select a video to open a streaming video, and it will be shared on all participating devices.Virtual Movie Night: How to Host a Watch Party Ready to Video Chat? How to Group FaceTime Here's What Kept You Swiping on TikTok for Hours (and Hours) in 2021
All participants need to have an Apple Fitness+ subscription to share content. After starting the FaceTime call, fire up the Apple Fitness app on your iPhone or iPad. Tap the Choose Content to Use SharePlay notification at the top of the screen. Tap the last icon in the FaceTime Video toolbar at the top and select Share My Screen.
Tap the button for a workout video that you want to play. At the SharePlay Fitness content prompt, choose SharePlay. The other people on the call should tap the Open button next to the notification for Join SharePlay. The video is then shared among all the people on the call.
Share Your Screen
Instead of sharing content from a supported app, you can also share any window on your screen. To do this, kick off your FaceTime call. Tap on the screen share icon in the FaceTime video toolbar, then select Share My Screen.
Now open any app or window, and the screen will be shared among the other people on the call. Your onscreen activity will also be visible to those in attendance.
Tweak Your SharePlay Settings
Once you enable SharePlay for a certain Apple app, it remains automatic for the next sharing session. For instance, if you share music through Apple Music, it should automatically start playing for everyone the next time you rev up a song for a sharing session. You can change this setting under Settings > FaceTime > SharePlay.
Any Apple apps you have previously shared through will be seen under the SharePlay Automatically header. Turn off any apps listed if you don't wish to automatically share next time. By turning this off, you will need to manually tap the Share My Screen each time, as if you were setting it up for the first time.
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