SharePlay on iOS 15 and tvOS 15Source: Apple

At WWDC 2021, Apple unveiled some powerful new FaceTime features under the umbrella term SharePlay.

Coming soon in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, SharePlay will unlock some new functionality for your video calls for shared entertainment experiences as well as increased productivity.

Here's what you need to know about SharePlay.

Apple occasionally offers updates to iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS as closed developer previews or public betas. While the betas contain new features, they also contain pre-release bugs that can prevent the normal use of your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, or Mac, and are not intended for everyday use on a primary device. That's why we strongly recommend staying away from developer previews unless you need them for software development, and using the public betas with caution. If you depend on your devices, wait for the final release.

What is SharePlay?

Craig Federighi described SharePlay as "a powerful new set of features for shared experiences that you can enjoy on a FaceTime call" during the WWDC keynote.

Perhaps a product of the pandemic, SharePlay is akin to other shared streaming experiences like Netflix Party and Facebook Watch Together in that it allows users to enjoy content simultaneously.

For SharePlay, that content is music and video, meaning you can stream movies, TV shows, and songs while on a FaceTime call with your pals and enjoy synced playback and controls. SharePlay also enables users to share their screens, which is a great way to show off some family photos and help with productivity tasks.

What kinds of content work with SharePlay?

Right now, music and video are supported content types for streaming together, and screen sharing will display whatever is on the screen of your Mac or iOS device. Note that streaming services will have to integrate the SharePlay feature to offer the functionality.

Which music services work with SharePlay?

SharePlay on iPhone Source: Apple

Out of the gate, Apple Music will support SharePlay music sharing, though the feature is open to third-party services. Hence, it's possible Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, and other music services may also support it at, or shortly after, its release to the general public.

It remains to be seen if other audio media will be supported beyond music, namely podcasts and audiobooks. Apple's developer site references "movies, TV, music, and other shared media," so there's unlikely to be a technical reason why the feature wouldn't work with other forms of audio content.

Which video services work with SharePlay?

It's a similar story for video services in that you'll be able to enjoy content via the Apple TV app in SharePlay from day one. Apple also namechecked various partners during the WWDC keynote, so we know the following apps will support the feature:

  • Disney+
  • ESPN+
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • MasterClass
  • NBA
  • Paramount+
  • Pluto TV
  • TikTok
  • Twitch

Notably, though unsurprisingly, Netflix is not on that list. It remains to be seen if this is another feature the popular streaming service chooses not to play ball with as it resists integration with the Apple ecosystem. Amazon Prime Video is also conspicuous in its absence, especially since the service has adopted other Apple features quickly.

Can I watch or listen using SharePlay without a subscription?

Those of you thinking that SharePlay might allow for an interesting loophole in the streaming media subscription space will be sorely disappointed to learn that everyone in a SharePlay experience must have access to the shared media individually to join in.

That means, to have a shared Apple Music experience, everyone must be a subscriber, or to stream a movie via Disney+, everyone must have paid access to that service, and so forth.

Apple's developer documentation even goes so far as to say that SharePlay will allow an onboarding flow for new subscribers to the relevant service for the user to take part.

When can I use SharePlay?

SharePlay is available to test in the iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey betas now, though it won't be widely available until the fall when the final versions of Apple's software are officially released to the public.

What devices work with SharePlay?

SharePlay works across all of the best iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV devices. Since the feature arrives in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, your device needs to be capable of running the latest software from Apple.

Check if your iPhone is compatible with iOS 15, your iPad can run iPadOS 15, or if your Mac supports macOS Monterey here.

Does SharePlay work with FaceTime for Android?

Unfortunately, no. Though Apple has finally made FaceTime a cross-platform tool in the form of FaceTime links, SharePlay only works across Apple platforms, so your Android-toting pals can't join in on the shared fun.

Any questions?

Still have questions about SharePlay? Let us know in the comments down below.

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