How to share content over FaceTime with SharePlay in iOS 15.1

SharePlay allows users to share content with others on a FaceTime call, which means you no longer need to trigger a Zoom call to quickly share your screen or present something with team members.

Image: Apple

SharePlay was introduced at WWDC ’21 along with iOS 15; however, the feature was notably missing when Apple shipped the beta versions and first iterations of iOS 15. With the release of iOS 15.1, Apple finally added this feature, probably delayed due to the need to have third-party apps available to use it.

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In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the process of starting a SharePlay session, which requires being on a FaceTime call first, and how to share content through the call, including sharing your iOS screen with other users (this is a feature which is great for helping with remote technical support with iOS devices, especially in a school, business, or corporate setting).

How to set up a FaceTime call

The first step to using SharePlay is to be on an active FaceTime call. There are a few ways to do this: Open the FaceTime app and select a contact to call via FaceTime, use Siri to FaceTime with a contact, or set up a scheduled FaceTime call.

Once you’re on an active FaceTime call, you can start sharing content by following the guides below.

How to share content with SharePlay

Sharing content via SharePlay is as easy as opening a compatible application on your iPhone and then activating the content you want to share (videos are usually the shared content of choice via SharePlay, but other applications may have alternative interfaces to activate the shared as a series of SharePlay content).

When you select content for SharePlay, a dialog box will appear asking if you want to start a SharePlay session with the call participants. Select SharePlay to start a new SharePlay session (Figure a).

Figure a

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Before sharing content via SharePlay on a FaceTime call, this message appears allowing you to choose to share or play just for yourself. This is only displayed in supported SharePlay applications.

When you have shared content through the app during the FaceTime call, other FaceTime call participants will receive a notification at the top of their screens to join the SharePlay session.

To use SharePlay, all call participants must have the application used for SharePlay installed on all of their devices. This means that subscription services (such as Apple Music, Spotify, HBO, Disney +, and other launch partner services) may require a subscription for all participants in order for them to view SharePlay content.

How to control content in SharePlay

Anyone on the FaceTime call can activate SharePlay. Once a user has decided to share content, they become the host of that content and have full control over it; however, other users on the call can also control the content whether it is music or video content. In the event that music or video is displayed via SharePlay, individual users on the call can control the playback position, forward or backward, and control the volume. If the playback position is changed, all users will automatically move to that position in the content and a notification will be displayed of who changed the playback position on all display devices.

How to share your screen with FaceTime

One of the best new features in FaceTime is the ability to share your screen with other people on the call. Previously, this functionality was limited to video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Slack or others, but now it is integrated into FaceTime, eliminating the need to install third-party applications or services to share the screen with others.

To use FaceTime screen sharing, you will need to be on a FaceTime call just as you were with the SharePlay feature and then tap the Screen Share button (Figure B), then select “Share my screen”.

Figure B

ios15shreplay-figure-b.jpg

Using FaceTime in iOS 15 now allows you to share your screen in addition to just the content that is played from your device.

When you do this, a countdown timer will appear where the button was to give you time for your screen to be ready to share, then your screen will start streaming to others on the FaceTime call. This is great for demonstrating an application, giving or receiving technical support, or showing something during a presentation or call that would be difficult to describe otherwise.

This is one of the most exciting features to come out of iOS and iPadOS 15 and it will revolutionize and increase our use of FaceTime due to this unique feature.

Applications that support SharePlay

Most proprietary music and content apps are SharePlay compatible (these include Apple Music and TV apps, to name a few). However, third-party support is quite hit or miss at the moment, but we expect additional apps and services to be available for the rest of this year and early next year.

These are the main applications that now support FaceTime SharePlay:

Entertainment apps:

Audio applications:

Training apps:

Productivity and other applications:

See also

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