Apple’s SharePlay feature coming to FaceTime in iOS 15 is a headache
Apple is bringing one of the hottest streaming features to iPhone users with the launch of SharePlay in iOS 15 later this year, allowing FaceTime users to stream music, online videos, and movies with friends. The move puts FaceTime in more direct competition with platforms like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Houseparty, all of which offer ways to video chat while watching things in groups. It gives Apple the ability to hook a new generation of users to FaceTime, but the service still lacks some key integrations to achieve this, especially for teens most likely to use it.
SharePlay, announced earlier this week and likely coming in the fall, will allow FaceTime users to share and stream media in real time from an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV. It’s a handy tool for the pandemic era, and it takes inspiration from the sleep modes that many major streaming platforms – including Disney Plus, Hulu, and Prime Video, among others – added on last year. . For services where it’s not supported, like Netflix, there are popular extensions that also allow simultaneous streaming and chat.
The goal is not to compete with these native platforms, however. After all, you’re still watching Hulu, just in a different space. Instead, the update puts FaceTime up against services like Facebook Messenger that dominate messaging and have tried to create co-watching experiences in the past, but without a list of services as robust as Apple has the ability to. line up.
SharePlay especially makes sense for the next generation of iPhone users, as teens are more likely to watch videos on their phones. Video-based social media apps like Instagram and TikTok are extremely popular among teens, and an overwhelming majority of teens access these apps on their own personal smartphones. Video chatting is also very popular, with a 2015 survey from Pew Research finding that 59% of American teens were video chatting with their friends.
The introduction of SharePlay also dovetails with plans reported by Apple to make iMessage more directly compete with Facebook-owned WhatsApp by becoming more of a social network. It makes perfect sense that the company is also investing in the development of its video calling product, which is just a few clicks away.
But if Apple wants SharePlay to be successful among the consumer population most likely to use it, it will need to increase the number of apps that support it.
Apple said that at launch, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, MasterClass, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok, and Twitch will be supported on SharePlay, which is a somewhat limited set of streaming options. Granted, this list has enough time to grow before iOS 15 officially rolls out to users in the fall. And Apple said The edge that SharePlay will be available for any streaming app that wants to support it, so we’re likely to see wider adoption down the road.
However, some of the best apps for this feature failed to make their way into the first slide of Apple-supported services. Netflix is perhaps the most obvious of these simply on the basis that virtually everyone has a Netflix ID, whether or not they pay for it (at least until the inevitable crackdown on passwords). But YouTube was not mentioned either, and neither company commented on potential downstream support when contacted. The edge this week. A spokesperson for Peacock, however, said The edge that support for SharePlay was on its “roadmap”.
YouTube, in particular, seems like a huge dud for Apple, especially when it comes to teenagers. YouTube hosts just about every digital media format imaginable – music, movies, news, personalities, tutorials, live streams, and more. – but above all, it’s free. As video callers already tend to be younger, apps with highly shareable content like live broadcasts seem to be the best use case for SharePlay outside of live sporting events. This is especially true given that for paid services, each participant in a SharePlay streaming session will need an identifier for the app. After all, if the tool didn’t require credentials and allowed anyone to drop a stream of FaceTime content from a paid service, SharePlay would be a hacking nightmare.
But that’s part of what makes the practical application of SharePlay a bit of a headache. Streaming the game or a movie premiere can get expensive quickly. If your friends are watching NFL coverage on Sling TV, you’ll need a $ 35 membership to participate (assuming the content is included in one of the service’s base packages). If you wanted to look at a Premier Access version like Cruel on Disney Plus, you will need to pay the monthly subscription cost of $ 8 above an additional early access ticket fee of $ 30. (A spokesperson for Disney Plus confirmed The edge that SharePlay users still have to pay in order to watch.)
It’s hard to imagine that most users would pay for a service just to be able to FaceTime while watching a title. Then again, based on recent trends in teen media consumption, maybe SharePlay is part of the future of entertainment consumption, at least for the younger subset of Apple users.
It makes sense that a company investing heavily in its service offerings will jump on the watch party trend, if not a bit late, and it seems like a natural way for Apple to not only stay relevant, but also sell. subscriptions and hardware – although at this time, SharePlay alone seems unlikely to boost streaming services numbers. Free, social media-focused services and streaming titans are most likely to find success with this feature, and live streaming apps seem likely to perform better. But they will actually have to to be at SharePlay to make it work. As it stands, many are not.