How to Use FaceTime Screen Sharing and SharePlay

Originally published at: How to Use FaceTime Screen Sharing and SharePlay - TidBITS

With iOS 15.1 and iPadOS 15.1, you can share your screen over FaceTime and even share synchronized music and movies with others during a FaceTime call. Josh Centers explains how to take advantage of FaceTime screen sharing and SharePlay.

However, you can’t play just anything, and it’s unclear why. In our testing, we found that nothing from the Radio tab in Music will play over SharePlay[…]

I assume that’s due to audio streams frequently having various levels of delay, and without a timecode (since it’s “live”) there’s no good way to sync them across devices that each have their own stream with a different delay.

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That makes sense for things in the Radio tab, but there were plenty of normal recorded tracks that failed with the same error as well.

It is all well and good to be able to screen-share to assist someone with the technology, and about time it was implemented by Apple. However the real benefit would be if we could interact with the other person’s iPhone/iPad to fix it. Was it “Back to my Mac” (or iChat) that provided this functionality way back in OSX?

So far we’ve used it to do the NYT crossword with our son who has moved back to Dublin post lockdown. Works a treat bar entry still has to happen on the initiating device. Interesting to note that SharePlay was disabled if the iPad was mirrored to an AppleTV. I had to stop mirroring before I could SharePlay the iPads screen.

FaceTime was lively when we had all five of us on and a shared Ted Lasso episode. The new family sofa…

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I just learned that you can see all SharePlay-compatible apps install on your iPhone or iPad by going to Settings > FaceTime > SharePlay.


Well, that’s cool. Though it tells me that the only SharePlay apps I have are Music, TV, CARROT Weather, and the Paramount+ app that doesn’t work without a subscription. :slight_smile:

It’s a lot of fun though. I hope it expands.

I assume the Music SharePlay only works with an Apple Music subscription? Not with the on-device library or songs bought from iTunes? I’m not entirely sure from the article.

Yes, that’s correct, since there’s no way for the system to determine that anyone else on the call has legal access to the song that’s being played.

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Makes sense. I didn’t know if it used the feature @jcenters described:

In theory, Apple makes it so developers can allow media-based SharePlay to others who don’t own access to the content

Since iTunes/Music already allows home sharing of your music library to stream it to people on your local network, I (optimistically) hoped it could fall under the same concept.

So did we! In fact, before we tested, we assumed unencumbered sharing would be the case and were expressing surprise (in text that we deleted after testing) that the content companies would have allowed Apple to let people share protected content. I think Apple is trying hard to avoid specifying this need for everyone to have legal access because it clearly hamstrings SharePlay. It’s also possible that the delay for SharePlay shipping was Apple trying to negotiate such flexibility and failing.