How to share content over FaceTime with SharePlay in iOS 15.1

SharePlay lets users share content with others on a FaceTime call, meaning that you no longer need to spin up a Zoom call to quickly share your screen or present something with team members.

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Image: Apple

SharePlay was introduced at WWDC '21 alongside iOS 15; however, the feature was notably missing when Apple shipped the betas and first iterations of iOS 15. With the release of iOS 15.1, Apple has finally added this feature, likely 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 that is excellent for helping with remote tech 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 in 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 a contact, or set up a scheduled FaceTime call.

Once you are in an active FaceTime call, you can begin sharing content by following along with the guides below.

How to share content with SharePlay

Sharing content through SharePlay is as easy as opening a compatible application on your iPhone, then activating the content you wish to share (videos are typically the shared content of choice through SharePlay, but other apps may have alternative interfaces to activate sharing as a host of SharePlay content).

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

Figure A

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Before sharing content through SharePlay on a FaceTime call, this prompt appears letting you choose to share or play just for yourself. This only displays on compatible SharePlay apps.

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

In order to use SharePlay, all of the participants on the call must have the app that's used to SharePlay the content installed on all of their devices. This does mean 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 the SharePlay content.

How to control content in SharePlay

Anyone on the FaceTime call can activate SharePlay. Once a user has decided to SharePlay 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 if it is music or video content. In the case that music or video is being displayed through SharePlay, individual users on the call can control the position of playback, skip forward or back and control the volume. If playback position is changed, then all users will be automatically moved to that position in the content, and a notification of who changed playback position will be shown on all viewing devices.

How to share your screen with FaceTime

One of the best new features of FaceTime is the ability to share your screen with others on the call. Previously this functionality was limited to video conferencing apps like Zoom, Slack or others, but now it's built right into FaceTime, negating the need to install any third-party apps or services to screen share with others.

To use screen sharing in FaceTime, you'll need to be on a FaceTime call just like you were with the SharePlay functionality, and then tap on the Screen Sharing button (Figure B), then select "Share My Screen."

Figure B

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Using FaceTime in iOS 15 now allows you to share your screen in addition to just content playing from your device.

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

This is one of the most exciting features that has come out of iOS and iPadOS 15 and will revolutionize and increase our use of FaceTime because of this single feature.

Apps that support SharePlay

The majority of first party music and content apps support SharePlay (these include Apple Music and TV apps to name a few). However, the third-party support is rather hit or miss right now, but we fully expect additional apps and services will be made available over the course of the remainder of this year and early part of next year.

These are the mainstream apps that now support FaceTime SharePlay:

Entertainment apps:

Audio apps:

Workout apps:

Productivity and other apps:

Also see

By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...