With the latest version of iOS, Apple is turning FaceTime into a platform for watching videos and listening to tunes together, allowing users to not only listen to songs on Apple Music with friends but also set up watch parties for Apple TV+ and third-party streaming services like Disney+ and HBO Max.
Update: Apple delayed SharePlay in August, with the feature absent from the initial iOS 15 launch on September 20. It will finally arrive on October 25 with the release of iOS 15.1.
Unveiled Monday during its annual WWDC keynote, the upcoming SharePlay feature will let you bring both music and videos into FaceTime calls, similar to Spotify’s Group Session feature and the existing watch party functionality on such streaming video services as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Hulu.
For Apple Music, you and your FaceTime crew will be able to listen to synched up, “high quality” tunes, and those on the call will be able to add tracks to a shared queue, as well as play, pause, or skip tracks.
You’ll also be able to launch a supported streaming video app while in a FaceTime call and watch movies and TV shows with your friends, with the stream going into a picture-in-picture window if you want to open a second app, visit a website, or perform another activity on your iOS device.
Naturally, the SharePlay feature will work with music and videos on Apple Music and Apple’s TV app, but it also supports third-party video services via an API. Among the services already onboard are Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, Pluto TV, NBA TV, Twitch, TikTok, MasterClass, and ESPN+.
SharePlay will extend to Apple TV for big-screen watch party sessions, and it will also work on the newly announced on-the-web version of FaceTime, which means Android and Windows users can join in.
Look for iOS 15 and SharePlay to arrive in the fall.
Updated on October 25, 2021 with a final release date for SharePlay.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices.