SharePlay – the feature in iOS 15 that lets you stream Y FaceTime with friends at the same time, it won’t be a part of iOS 15 (or any of Apple’s other major software releases) when the full update arrives in the fall. Instead, it will be the last iOS feature to miss the public release date. Apple plans to include SharePlay with a future update to its software.
Apple announced the news to developers. on your own site today (Aug 17), in a post stating that the feature has also been “disabled for use in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and tvOS 15 developer beta 6” and will be disabled in beta 6 from Monterey. The company did not give any explanation as to why this is happening.
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As for when we will bring SharePlay back, Apple notes that it will be “enabled for use again in future beta releases for developers and will be released to the public in software updates later this fall.”
Why SharePlay is great, where it can improve
During the last year and a half, many (myself included) needed something I like it SharePlay. Watching a show or movie with friends and family remotely is too clunky, requiring one device to stream the show and another for a call on a service like FaceTime, Google Meet, Houseparty, or Discord. Balancing these two acts is too tricky, especially with the audio coming from both.
Get into SharePlay, which allows Apple users to share streams, as long as everyone subscribes to the correct service or purchases the movie / show on demand, while on a FaceTime call. It’s that kind of Apple feature that, as the old saying goes, just worked.
When I tested this feature with the Apple TV app, it worked quite well. Even Spatial Audio, Apple’s trick to make audio sound like it’s coming from on-screen position, worked well. When I tested it on iPadOS 15, my colleagues, whose faces were positioned on either side of the Ted Lasso episode, sounded like they were to my left and right, respectively.
My only real frustration came with macOS 12, where FaceTime calling videos and SharePlay streaming didn’t overlap properly. On the iPad, the boxes for streaming and calling were more aware of each other, and on the Mac they were just windows that didn’t share the screen well enough.
SharePlay hasn’t been such a great feature for those whose friends are on Android, or want to watch something on Netflix (which Apple has yet to announce a partnership with). I would also love if Apple could release a camera for the Apple TV that allows you to use FaceTime from that box and not have to use your phone or iPad as a camera.
Delayed features are the new normal for Apple
Apple loves to announce great features when it reveals OS updates at WWDC, but it doesn’t always include them in the final release. For iOS 12, it was Group FaceTime Chat, a month and a half after the release of iOS 12 on September 17, 2018, on October 30.
App tracking transparency, which was intended to improve privacy and allow you to limit the ability of third-party developers to track your activity, also came late, in iOS 14.5, on April 26, 2021, months after the release of iOS 14 on September 16, 2020.
On a related note, Apple’s controversial technology for scanning and detecting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is also being delayed. It will be on iOS 15 / iPadOS 15 in late 2021, not the first public release of iOS 15.
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