This story is part of, CNET’s complete coverage from and about Apple’s annual developers conference.
Airfares in July were more affordable than they were in June, but they’re still sky high compared to July 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of that, you might not be traveling to see friends or family any time soon. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend an evening watching a movie or show together, though.
Apple’supgrade brought many exciting new features to iPhone users — , , and other IDs in your Apple Wallet. The update also brought SharePlay, a new FaceTime feature that lets iPhone, iPad and Mac users share screens — and streams — with each other for virtual watch parties. SharePlay wasn’t available in the initial iOS 15 release, but it was included in , which was released in October 2021.
SharePlay is one of FaceTime’s biggest updates, making Apple a big competitor withand . You can use SharePlay to share your screen with your partner to watch movies, listen to songs and more — all while on your FaceTime call. There are a few caveats: Both parties need to , and both parties must also be subscribed to any streaming services being shared. But overall, SharePlay seems poised to transform video calling and movie watching.
Here’s how to get it set up.
How to use SharePlay to share your screen in FaceTime
Like Zoom, FaceTime will let you share your screen with others on the call using SharePlay, so you can share more than just music and videos. Apple’s suggested use cases include planning a trip together, browsing Zillow with future roommates, showing off a video game or helping a friend with a technical problem by walking them through. This feature will also work across Apple devices, which means you can share your Mac screen or your iPhone or iPad screen in a call.
How to stream shows and movies with FaceTime
Having a watch party in FaceTime is simple and intuitive with SharePlay. When you stream movies or TV shows with a friend or significant other, content will sync across devices and allow both parties access to controls. And you’ll still see and hear each other in picture-in-picture as you watch. Streaming services that have already partnered with Apple for SharePlay include Hulu, HBO Max, TikTok and ESPN Plus.
In order to use SharePlay, both parties need to use FaceTime on an Apple device that supports, or . Another cool feature of SharePlay is that you can cast to your while maintaining the FaceTime call on your iPhone. That way you’re not stuck squinting at a tiny screen with your friend’s face blocking the show.
Here’s how to set up SharePlay in FaceTime:
1. Start a FaceTime call.
2. Open a streaming app while connected to the call and choose a show or movie.
3. Press Play, and both parties can watch the same stream at once.
How to listen to music with SharePlay
Using SharePlay to listen to a new album with a significant other or friend works similarly to having a watch party. When sharing music, both parties will also have access to controls to pause, play or skip songs in SharePlay. And you can even contribute to shared playlists by adding songs to a queue within Apple Music.
Here’s how to share music with SharePlay:
1. Start a FaceTime call.
2. Open Apple Music and choose a song.
3. Press Play, and the song will begin playing from both devices at the same time.
One drawback: SharePlay’s subscription problem
Netflix,and YouTube are a few of the apps that won’t sync with SharePlay. Apple also notes that a subscription will be required for both parties in order to share streaming services (like HBO Max or Disney Plus) through SharePlay. , we put this to the test and verified that not only do both parties need a subscription to the app being shared (if applicable), but they also need to have the app itself downloaded on both devices.
So if your friend or significant other wants to SharePlay a TikTok video and you don’t have the TikTok app installed, you won’t be able to see the video over FaceTime. And before you get too excited, you also won’t be able to circumvent this by sharing your video stream via screen-share instead of through the app itself.
For more on Apple, check out the new features in— like being able to — the and .
Correction, Sept. 21: A previous version of this article incorrectly said SharePlay was included with the release of iOS 15. It was available in the beta version of the software.