Apple Unveils FaceTime SharePlay, Allowing Synchronized Media Playback and Real-Time Chat

Apple unveiled a new feature of its FaceTime video-chat app dubbed SharePlay, which provides a way for multiple users to watch or listen to media together — virtually — while chatting at the same time.

The SharePlay feature will be available in iOS 15, the next major upgrade to the tech giant’s device operating system. SharePlay works with Apple’s own apps and services, including Apple TV. In addition, Apple has inked deals with partners including Disney (to support the co-viewing feature in Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus), WarnerMedia (for HBO Max), TikTok, Twitch and ViacomCBS (for Paramount Plus and Pluto TV).

Apple’s Craig Federighi, senior VP of software engineering, announced SharePlay along with other iOS 15 features at the company’s 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is taking place virtually again this year.

SharePlay works not only with users with Apple iOS devices like iPhone, but also with friends on Android devices, according to Federighi.

Apple’s embrace of virtual “watch parties” comes as social co-viewing boomed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services that have adopted “watch party” features recently have included Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Dish’s Sling TV, alongside apps that work across multiple streaming services like Scener and Teleparty.

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