When Apple first unveiled SharePlay, a screen-sharing feature within the iPhone's FaceTime app, long-distance couples (and friend groups!) rejoiced. SharePlay would make virtual movie nights a cinch.
This was back in the iOS 15 days -- iOS 16.3 is the current version -- but SharePlay is still a really neat part of the iPhone experience and one of FaceTime's biggest updates, making Apple a big competitor to Zoom and Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party). If you haven't tried it yet, tonight's the night. What better time to host a virtual movie night with your far-away partner than Valentine's Day?
Read more: This Secret Netflix Menu Will Spice Up Your Valentine's Day
So what exactly is SharePlay? It's a FaceTime feature that lets iPhone, iPad and Mac users share screens -- and streams -- with each other. 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. Here's how to get it set up.
How to use SharePlay 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 your 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 partnered with Apple for SharePlay include Hulu, HBO Max, TikTok, Apple Fitness Plus, Twitch, Spotify, ESPN Plus and many more.
In order to use SharePlay, both parties need to use FaceTime on an Apple device (and you have to upgrade to at least iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1 or MacOS Monterey 12.1). Another cool feature of SharePlay is that you can cast to your Apple TV 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
Not a big movie buff? Here's an alternative virtual date idea: Create a playlist just for your significant other, then use SharePlay to listen to it together. 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.
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 which settings to change. 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.
One drawback: SharePlay's subscription problem
Netflix and YouTube are just two of the apps that won't sync with SharePlay -- though a workaround for YouTube is to just share your screen, not the app. 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 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.
For more on the iPhone's newest tricks, check out the best new features in iOS 16.3 -- like being able to edit and unsend messages. Plus, here are some Valentine's Day freebies you can get at restaurants, and here's how to have a good Valentine's Day even if you're single.