Apple introduced SharePlay with iOS 15 and it quickly became a hit with the users. It allows you to stream audio or video content in sync with other people on a FaceTime call. It also adds shared controls to the mix to make it a more communal digital experience.

But while the feature was wildly popular, many users wished they could have the shared experience without having to hop on a FaceTime call. iOS 16 fulfills that wish and brings SharePlay to iMessage.

You can now send the SharePlay link via iMessage for supported media, which when clicked will initiate the SharePlay or allow the other participant to join in if the playback has already started. This will not start a FaceTime call and will allow you to chat over iMessage while you are streaming the media. Earlier, SharePlay could only be started after you were already on a FaceTime call.

All users in the session can control the playback. For apps that support Picture-in-Picture, you can even have the streaming session right in the Messages app.

Limitations of SharePlay

There are a few limitations when you wish to enjoy any media over SharePlay with your contacts.

  • Since SharePlay streams synced audio for the media streaming along with shared controls, not every wireless or wired earphone is supported. Though not officially declared, very few of the wireless earphones apart from the ones manufactured by Apple and Beats are supported.
  • If a person starting the media stream is on a paid platform or using a subscription-based service, the other participants, too, shall have individual subscriptions to the same. Otherwise, to SharePlay successfully, they would be asked to gain access to the app/ media.
  • You might not be able to SharePlay successfully if certain content is not available in the other participants’ countries due to geo-restrictions.
  • All the participants need to be on iOS 16 in order to have a SharePlay session using iMessage. If you’re on iOS 15, you can only SharePlay over FaceTime.

Sharing a SharePlay link with a contact over iMessage and kicking off the SharePlay session is as plain sailing as it gets. Moreover, since SharePlay is completely synced, the contact can jump right in the middle of the playback if you already started streaming the media.

First, head to a supported app that you wish to stream during the SharePlay session. Once you have navigated to the media that you wish to stream, tap on the ‘Actions Menu’ (or Share) button to proceed. To showcase the process in this guide, we will be using the Spotify app.


Now, from the overlay menu, tap on the ‘More’ option to continue. This will again bring an overlay window to your screen.

Then, tap on the ‘SharePlay’ button to proceed. This will open an overlay menu from where you can choose how you wish to conduct the SharePlay session, i.e., whether you want to use Messages or FaceTime.

From the overlay menu, first, add the contact(s) you want to have the SharePlay session with. Search for a contact in the ‘To’ field and tap on the result to add them. Search for more contacts if you intend to add more participants to the session.

Once you have added the intended participants, tap on the ‘Messages’ button at the bottom to start the session over Messages. If the ‘Messages’ button is greyed out, the people you are inviting for the session do not have the supported device or the operating system. Tap ‘FaceTime’ to start the SharePlay session over a FaceTime call. Unlike before, you don’t have to be on a FaceTime call already to be able to SharePlay.

The Messages app will open and the link to the SharePlay session will already be in the message box. If you want, you can add a message along with the link. Then, tap the ‘Send’ button.

All the recipients can now simply tap on the shared link and join the SharePlay session. Once the session has started, a FaceTime call-like top bar with controls to chat using messages, start a FaceTime call, or share your screen will appear to manage the session. You can also manage the participants in the session from here. To end the SharePlay session, simply tap the ‘End’ (X) button.

Start a SharePlay Session from a FaceTime Call

Just like before, you can also start a SharePlay session right from the middle of the FaceTime call. That being said, on iOS 16, all the apps supporting SharePlay will be listed right on the ‘SharePlay’ tab.

When on a FaceTime call, tap on the ‘Share my screen’ option. Next, navigate and tap on the app that you wish to use to stream media. To showcase, we will use the ‘Music’ app.

Now, from the Music app, navigate to the song and tap on it to play and stream on SharePlay.

This will start the SharePlay streaming on all the participant’s devices. The Music app will also display the total number of people listening.

To end the SharePlay session, tap on the ‘SharePlay’ button on the tap bar and tap on the ‘End SharePlay’ option to proceed.

If you wish to end the SharePlay session only for yourself, tap on the ‘End Only for Me’ option. Otherwise, to end it for all the participants, tap on ‘End for Everyone’.

That’s all there is to it. SharePlay on iOS 16 is much more convenient than before, allowing you to start a session without even going on a FaceTime call. Now, you can enjoy the experience of streaming your favorite shows or listening to music together without the nuances of a phone call, if that’s what floats your boat. And anytime you do want to FaceTime, you can easily start the call from the SharePlay toolbar.