Apple Lets You Watch Videos While on a FaceTime Call With SharePlay

It can be really hard to keep up with loved ones if you live far apart from one another. Certainly hanging out casually and watching a movie isn’t super easy to do. Or is it?

At WWDC21, Apple announced a new feature coming to FaceTime in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey—SharePlay.

SharePlay will allow you to watch videos and listen to music with people while you video chat with them. We’re very excited for this, and for some other features SharePlay has as well. Let us tell you about them below.

What Will SharePlay Do?

As we said, SharePlay will allow you to co-watch and co-listen to media with your friends and family while you’re in a FaceTime call with them. This media could be full movies on HBO Max or a song on Apple Music. But it could also be TikTok videos and Twitch streams.

Users in the call will all be able to pause, play, and skip around whatever content is being enjoyed. If a group collectively wants to skip the next track on an album, that can happen. If people want to watch a scene again, that can happen too.

It will also be possible for people without Apple devices to be a part of these calls. You’ll be able to send FaceTime links to whoever you want to video chat with, and those users will be able to share, control, and enjoy what everyone’s watching like everyone else.

You’ll also be able to move whatever you’re watching on SharePlay from the device where you’re taking the call to another one. So you can be on a FaceTime chat on your iPhone, but be able to send the video to your Apple TV or your MacBook Pro to watch.

You’ll also be able to watch and chat with picture-in-picture viewing on one device. The video you’re watching will be nice and big, while your video chat stays up in a corner of your screen so you can enjoy your friend’s reactions as you watch.

All That, and Screen Sharing Too

On top of being able to watch and listen to particular apps as a group, SharePlay will allow users to share their screens in FaceTime too.

This means you and your future roommates can all look at apartment listings together and talk in real time about which one you want to go see in person. Or you can show off the photos from your last vacation to your family. Or tons of other examples.

Screen sharing in SharePlay should allow for a lot of creative co-watching of websites and apps in FaceTime. Combined with all of the amazing apps and services already on board to be shared with SharePlay, it’s shaping up to be a truly game-changing feature.

Many Apps and Services Are Already On Board

Quite a few website extensions and apps have popped up since 2020 that allow people to watch streaming services simultaneously with friends. Some streaming services have also created native ways for users to have watch parties with their content.

SharePlay is helping to expand the number of apps and services offering this feature. We already mentioned that HBO Max, Apple Music, TikTok, and Twitch will be able to work with SharePlay. You’ll be able to co-watch content on these services the second SharePlay is released.

SharePlay will also be releasing with sharing options for Disney+, Hulu, MasterClass, PlutoTV, and Paramount+. It will also be able to share live sports via the NBA app and ESPN+.

Other co-watching services allow for real-time text conversations. But SharePlay will be unique by allowing for video chats while content plays. This makes it stand out to us, as well as the services that might sign on to utilize this feature going forward.

More Apps and Services Are Probably Coming Soon

SharePlay’s API is already available for app developers. This means apps and services can become shareable via SharePlay whenever they want.

We expect other streaming services and some game apps will make themselves available on SharePlay very quickly. Others will be able to jump in quickly if SharePlay becomes really popular.

We’re predicting it will be a pretty popular way to enjoy content with other people. So we can’t wait to see the other apps and sites that will become a part of SharePlay in the future, in addition to the ones we’re eager to start using with it right now.

A Fun Way to Hang While Apart

SharePlay looks like a great way to spend time with loved ones who are far away at the moment. You’ll be able to laugh and enjoy content together while still seeing each other’s faces—something you probably crave now and then.

We can’t wait for SharePlay to release with the macOS Monterey, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 updates in the near future. Until then, we’ll be saving up videos and TV episodes to show our long-distance friends when we can!


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