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Apple SharePlay: New feature enables users to listen to music together and more

Apple SharePlay, a new feature in IOS 15.1, allows iPhone users to have a more shared experience with up to 33 people on a call all through FaceTime. Yahoo Finance Tech Editor Daniel Howley explains.

Video transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back. In this week's Tech Support, we're taking a closer look at one feature out there that some of you, no doubt, probably a majority of you, have used before. That would be FaceTime. And SharePlay, one of the new things Apple is working on, allows iPhone users to have some shared experience with friends while using FaceTime. And Yahoo Finance's tech editor Dan Howley is joining us here in Tech Support to break down how to use it with Apple's latest software update. Dan.

DAN HOWLEY: That's right, Zack. The new version of iOS, iOS 15.1, is out. And with that, Apple has added SharePlay to FaceTime. Now, let me give you an idea of what SharePlay is. It's basically a way for you and friends, up to 33 people in a FaceTime call-- that's the Max for FaceTime-- to either watch a movie together or listen to music together or join a workout together, play games. It's all through FaceTime. And it's really pretty amazing to see it work in action.

So let me just give you an idea of how it works. Essentially, what you'll do is you'll start up a FaceTime call with someone. Both of you have to be on 15.1, iOS 15.1. It only works with iPhones and Apple devices. So it's not really going to work with an Android user. But you launch that and then you say to your friend, do you want to watch a movie? Sure, so you swipe up from the bottom. Your FaceTime call will go into a little box in the top right hand part of the screen. You can swipe around, find the app that you want. We'll say the NBA app. You want to watch the Knicks lose, I guess. And you'll be able to launch that.

When you launch it, there will be an option in the corner of the screen asking if you want to SharePlay the video that you're watching. And so as soon as that happens, it'll kick off. You'll get a notification. Your friend will get a notification asking if they want to join the SharePlay video. And boom, you're off to the races.

Now, what's amazing about this is when you're actually using it with friends and family, anyone on the app is able to scrub through video, pause, rewind, fast forward. So it's not like one person is in complete control. If you've got to get up and go to the bathroom and, you know, you want to pause it, you pause it. Everyone else is paused. And then you come back and press play, and everyone's good to go.

It's also amazing because it's not necessarily sharing your screen. So it's not like I'm taking what I'm seeing on my phone, and you're seeing it through the connection. It's actually the app on your phone. So if you're watching the NBA app, for instance, you would have the NBA app on your phone. I'd have it on my phone. And when we have that connection over SharePlay, it launches on both our devices at the same time. So there's no lag. There's no issues with fidelity. You're still going to get the same resolution that you would get otherwise.

Now there's a few other apps that are going to become available down the line. Right now, let me just give you a breakdown of what's out there. There's Apple TV Plus, Apple Music, Apple Fitness Plus, the NBA app, Paramount Plus, Showtime, Redfin if you want to do home listings, TikTok, Heads Up, the game-- so if you want to play, you know, a guessing game, you can do that. There's a whole bunch of different companies. It's not just audio and video or workouts. The media volume in it is really interesting because if you're talking to someone while you're watching, the show's video will actually lower. And then once you're done speaking, it'll come back up.

So this is a really great feature, I think, for people who are separated from each other a lot. If you or a spouse travel, you have kids, kids are at home, you want to watch something with them, you can fire it up. If you have parents that live far away or even just friends and you guys have, you know, TV appointments where you want to watch the next episode of whatever's coming out or you're bingeing something together, this is a great way to do that.

And I just also want to throw out there that if you do have an Apple TV, you can cast it from your iPhone to your Apple TV and watch everything on the big screen. So it's out now. I highly recommend giving it a try. There's also the ability to actually share your screen. So if you have a parent, like my father, who is a Luddite, you can fire up your phone and then show them-- walk them through how to connect to their Wi-Fi, something like that. So there's that ability as well. But a great feature. I really do think it's something that's worth checking out. And it's a lot of fun.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, Dan, I have parents, too, somewhat Luddites. But I have to ask you. You gave a laundry list of supported games or apps, and I didn't see Netflix on that list. And if Netflix isn't syncing up with it-- also noting that Spotify, YouTube aren't-- is that going to change?

DAN HOWLEY: So this is an open API. And essentially, what it means is, it's available for any developer to try to put together their app with this. So it's not that Apple is stopping Netflix. It's that Netflix just hasn't done it yet. Spotify, by the way, they've actually announced that they are coming. So it's going to be available. It's just a matter of when the app will be updated. But they are on track to do that.

I think this would be great for Netflix, right? If you had something like, say, during spooky season, "Midnight Mass" was a great show that I watched. You know, we were talking about this with our friends over WeChat. You know, if we were able to do this together, it would have been really cool. And, you know, obviously, people were doing this during the pandemic.

And, you know, it was kind of an awful setup. Nothing was really working well. Nothing synced well. The audio was so off. But if something like this existed at that point, it would have been worlds, worlds better. So I do think it's definitely worth checking out. You just got to talk to Netflix about getting that on there.

JARED BLIKRE: Yeah, and you got to think that only today could this be possible at that level of fidelity. Really excited for that, actually. Dan Howley, thanks for stopping by here.

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