Apple will introduce a new SharePlay feature in its FaceTime video app, providing a way for multiple users in different locations to chat while watching video or listen to music. When a user plays media, playback will start for the whole group at the same time, with shared controls. The system synchronizes app playback on all participating devices so that group users can enjoy the experience simultaneously. However, they will all have to be entitled to play the media.
If someone in a FaceTime call initiates a group activity with an app that someone else on the call does not have installed, they will be prompted to download it from the App Store. Developers can provide special onboarding flows or trial offers for new users.
SharePlay will work with Apple apps, including Apple TV and Apple Music. Disney will support co-viewing features in Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus. WarnerMedia will include support for HBO Max, as will ViacomCBS for Paramount Plus and Pluto TV. TikTok and Twitch will also have support.
At the time of writing Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are absent from the partner list. Netflix has its own Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party. Amazon has its own Watch Party.
The Apple SharePlay capability will come with updates to Apple operating systems. SharePlay will be supported on the iPhone and IPad with iOS 15, on Apple TV with tvOS 15, and on Mac computers with macOS Monterey.
Developers can add support using the Group Activities application programming interface, which is integrated with Core Media services.
The term SharePlay echoes the AirPlay feature pioneered by Apple. Interestingly, Sony uses the term Share Play to refer to a feature that allows PlayStation Plus users to invite a visitor to view their screen for up to 60 minutes in a session.