FaceTime isn’t the same video call feature it was back in 2010. In the last decade, it’s gone through several renovations, improving each time — and never more so than with iOS 15. During Apple’s WWDC this year, the Cupertino-based company introduced a number of new features to FaceTime, in particular SharePlay, which turned out to be one of the more interesting announcements.
Along with microphone modes, portrait mode, and grid view, FaceTime received a new feature called SharePlay, which allows participants on a video call to watch movies, listen to music, and share their screen — together.
Although it isn’t accessible to everyone just quite yet, here’s an in-depth look at all the tools you should soon be able to play with on SharePlay in FaceTime.
How to Enable SharePlay
SharePlay should be turned on by default, but if it’s not, you can easily toggle it on manually. To do this:
- Launch the Settings application.
- Go into FaceTime.
- Tap on SharePlay.
- Toggle on SharePlay.
Underneath that, you’ll see a couple of settings for Music and TV. We’ll get into these settings later on in the guide, but essentially they allow you to automatically begin SharePlay when you enter either application and you’re on a FaceTime call.
How to Access SharePlay
Now that SharePlay is toggled on, you can make a FaceTime call and begin to use SharePlay. No matter whether you start the call or not, you’ll be able to access the new feature. On a FaceTime, tap your finger anywhere to bring up the various buttons, and tap on the SharePlay icon in the top right of the screen.
How to Share Your Screen on SharePlay
The first thing you can do on SharePlay is share your screen with everyone on the FaceTime call. To do this, tap on the SharePlay button in the FaceTime call and then tap on Share Screen. A countdown will begin and you’ll be informed that your notifications will be hidden while your screen is being shared.
The other participants on the FaceTime will be able to watch your screen as you navigate your way, whether you’re showing a text in Messages, browsing through Instagram, or playing a third-party game.
To stop sharing your screen, simply tap on the SharePlay button in the top right corner of the FaceTime call.
How to Listen to Music on SharePlay
The next thing you can do on SharePlay is listen to music together. While the person playing the music must have a Music subscription, it’s unclear whether everyone on the video call needs to also pay for Apple Music in order to listen.
To use Apple Music and SharePlay, minimize the FaceTime call and open Apple Music. The first time you do this, you’ll see a notification that says Choose Content to Use SharePlay at the top of the screen.
Next, find something to play, whether it’s a radio station or a song from your favorite playlist. As soon as you play music, you’ll see a large pop-up that has several options:
- SharePlay: Play the song for you and for everyone else on your FaceTime call.
- Start Only for Me: Play the song only on your end.
Hit SharePlay to play the music for your FaceTime call. At the top of the screen, you’ll receive a new notification specifying what you’re playing and who you’re playing it for (other participants on the video call).
Note: The next time you hop on a FaceTime call and head to the Music application to play a song, it’ll automatically be shared via SharePlay.
A few interesting things to know about using Music with SharePlay is that you have smart queue and smart volume tools. The smart queue allows other participants on the FaceTime call to add music to the queue, which everyone shares. The smart volume feature automatically adjusts volume controls so that you can hear your friends and family clearer when they speak and music is playing in the background.
Although pausing a song will stop it from being heard, it doesn’t disable Music with SharePlay. To turn it off, bring up the FaceTime call controls, tap on the SharePlay button, and then hit End SharePlay, which will show what’s currently playing. You can then end the music for everyone or just for you.
How to Watch Videos on SharePlay
And finally, you can watch any TV shows, movies, and other videos from the Apple TV application. Like with music, the person playing the video must have an Apple TV subscription, but it’s unclear whether the participants watching must pay for it as well.
To use TV with SharePlay, launch the TV application while you’re on a FaceTime call and find something to play. After you hit play, you’ll see the following options:
- SharePlay: Play the video for you everyone else on the FaceTime call.
- Start Only for Me: Play the video only for you.
If you tap on SharePlay, the video will appear on your screen, as well as everyone else’s, so that they can watch it with you.
Note: The next time you go into TV while on a FaceTime call, the video will automatically be shared via SharePlay.
TV on SharePlay also has a few neat features that help make watching videos on FaceTime go smoothly. The first is synced playback, which means that everyone’s playback will always remained sync, no matter if one person pauses the video or another one fast-forwards. And like with Music, smart volume lowers the volume of the video so that when a participant on the FaceTime call speaks, they can easily be heard.
To turn off the video, bring up the FaceTime controls, tap on the SharePlay button, and then hit End SharePlay. It will then ask if you want to End for Everyone or End Only for Me.
Use SharePlay With Other Apple Devices
Aside from your iPhone and iPad, SharePlay works on other compatible Apple devices, such as the HomePod and the Apple TV. For example, if you’re listening to music on your HomePod, you can share that music with your friends on a FaceTime call on your iPhone. And if you’re watching a movie on your Apple TV, you can share the video with your family on a FaceTime call on your iPad.
How to Stop SharePlay From Automatically Turning On
The first time you ever use SharePlay, you’ll be asked if you want to share music or videos with the other participants on your FaceTime call. However, after that, you’re no longer asked. Instead, SharePlay will connect automatically anytime you go into Music or TV — unless you stop it.
To stop SharePlay from automatically connecting, simply allow SharePlay to connect automatically first while on a FaceTime call. Next, tap on the SharePlay icon in the top right. And finally, tap on Ask Next Time. This will force SharePlay to ask you to connect the next time, however, you’ll have to do this each time after automatically connecting.
Another way to temporarily force SharePlay to ask you to connect to SharePlay is to go to Settings -> FaceTime -> SharePlay and toggle off Music and TV. The next time you go into either app you’ll be asked if you want to connect to SharePlay, however, after that, it’ll connect automatically like usual unless you go and toggle the settings off again.
How to Disable SharePlay
If you’re not happy with SharePlay, you can easily toggle it off. To do so:
- Launch the Settings app.
- Go into FaceTime.
- Tap on SharePlay.
- Toggle off SharePlay.
SharePlay is a great first step in connecting people more closely, but the video call feature still needs some work. Although nothing has been planned yet, SharePlay will possibly be open to developers for third-party implementation, allowing users to possible share music from Spotify or movies from Netflix and HBO in the future. If you’re able to use SharePlay, what do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.