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Q&A with the SharePlay team

Q&A with the SharePlay team

SharePlay is all about creating meaningful shared experiences in your app. By taking advantage of SharePlay, your app can provide a real-time connection that synchronizes everything from media playback to 3D models to collaborative tools across iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Vision Pro. We caught up with the SharePlay team to ask about creating great SharePlay experiences, spatial Personas, that magic “shockwave” effect, and more.

How does a person start a SharePlay experience?

Anyone can begin a group activity by starting a FaceTime call and then launching a SharePlay-supported app. When they do, a notification about the group activity will appear on all participants’ screens. From there, participants can join — and come and go — as they like. You can also start a group activity from your app, from the share sheet, or by adding a SharePlay button to your app.

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How can I use SharePlay to keep media playback in sync?

SharePlay supports coordinated media playback using AVKit. You can use the system coordinator to synchronize your own player across multiple participants. If you have an ad-supported app, you can synchronize both playback and ad breaks. SharePlay also provides the GroupSessionMessenger API, which lets participants communicate in near-real time.

What’s the difference between SharePlay and Shared with You? Can they work together?

SharePlay allows people to share rich experiences with each other. Shared with You helps make app content that people are sharing in Messages available to your app. For example, if a group chat is discussing a funny meme video from your app, adopting Shared with You would allow your app to highlight that content in the app. And if your app supports SharePlay, you can surface that relevant content as an option for watching together.

Separately, Shared with You offers ways to initiate collaboration on shared, persisted content (such as documents) over Messages and FaceTime. You can choose to support SharePlay on that collaborative content, but if you do, consider the ephemerality of a SharePlay experience compared to the persistence of collaboration. For example, if your document is a presentation, you may wish to leverage Shared with You to get editors into the space while using SharePlay to launch an interactive presentation mode that just isn’t possible with screen sharing alone.

What’s the easiest way for people to share content?

When your app lets your system know that your current view has shareable content on screen, people who bring their devices together can seamlessly share that content — much like NameDrop, which presents a brief “shockwave” animation when they do. This method supports the discrete actions of sharing documents, initiating SharePlay, and starting a collaboration. This can also connect your content to the system share sheet and help you expose shareable content to the Share menu in visionOS.

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Can someone on iPhone join a SharePlay session with someone on Apple Vision Pro?

Yes! SharePlay is supported across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and visionOS. That means people can watch a show together on Apple TV+ and keep their playback synchronized across all platforms. To support a similar playback situation in your app, watch Coordinate media playback in Safari with Group Activities. If you’re looking to maintain your app’s visual consistency across platforms, check out the Group Session Messenger and DrawTogether sample project. Remember: SharePlay keeps things synchronized, but your UI is up to you.

How do I get started adopting spatial Personas with SharePlay in visionOS?

When you add Group Activities to your app, people can share in that activity over FaceTime while appearing windowed — essentially the same SharePlay experience they’d see on other platforms. In visionOS, you have the ability to create a shared spatial experience using spatial Personas in which participants are placed according to a template. For example:

Using spatial Personas, the environment is kept consistent and participants can see each others’ facial expressions in real time.

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How do I maintain visual and spatial consistency with all participants in visionOS?

FaceTime in visionOS provides a shared spatial context by placing spatial Personas in a consistent way around your app. This is what we refer to as “visual consistency.” You can use SharePlay to maintain the same content in your app for all participants.

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Can both a window and a volume be shared at the same time in a SharePlay session?

No. Only one window or volume can be associated with a SharePlay session, but you can help the system choose the proper window or volume.

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How many people can participate in a group activity?

SharePlay supports 33 total participants, including yourself. Group activities on visionOS involving spatial Personas support five participants at a time.

Do iOS and iPadOS apps that are compatible with visionOS also support SharePlay in visionOS?

Yes. During a FaceTime call, your app will appear in a window, and participants in the FaceTime call will appear next to it.

Learn more about SharePlay

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Add SharePlay to your app

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