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We already know that a few iOS 15 features won’t be arriving right away, but now it looks Apple has decided to put off one feature that we were hoping would show up in iOS 15.0 — SharePlay.
Following the arrival of iOS 15 Beta 6 earlier today, Apple has just sent out an email to all registered iOS developers, letting them know that it’s decided to disable SharePlay entirely in this latest set of developer betas, and that it won’t be coming in the initial iOS 15.0 release.
This naturally extends to Apple’s other major operating system releases that would have featured SharePlay, including iPadOS 15 and tvOS 15, both of which also saw their sixth betas launch today, and Apple adds that the upcoming beta 6 release of macOS Monterey will also see the feature disabled.
We’re reaching out to let you know that SharePlay has been disabled for use in the developer beta 6 versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and tvOS 15, and will be disabled in the upcoming beta 6 release of macOS Monterey. SharePlay will also be disabled for use in their initial releases this fall. SharePlay will be enabled for use again in future developer beta releases and will launch to the public in software updates later this fall.Apple Developer Relations
Apple isn’t saying why it’s chosen to put off the release of SharePlay, merely that it’s coming “in software updates later this fall” — so we’re assuming that we’ll see it appear in iOS 15.1 or iOS 15.2, whenever those arrive.
Instead, the company is putting its usual positive spin on things, lauding developers for their support for the technology, and providing an alternative way for them to build and test SharePlay features in their apps.
We appreciate how many teams have been hard at work building SharePlay experiences and to ensure there is no interruption in your development, we’re providing a SharePlay Development Profile, which will enable successful creation and reception of GroupSessions via the Group Activities API.Apple Developer Relations
Although Apple notes that “SharePlay will be enabled for use again in future developer beta releases,” we suspect that this likely refers to those betas that will come after the public launch of iOS 15 and its companions.
The new SharePlay feature promises to allow users to join together via FaceTime to watch streaming videos and listen to audio simultaneously. It’s very similar to what Disney+, Hulu, and Plex are offering, except that it’s part of the operating system rather than a service-specific feature.
While Apple naturally plans to support it for Apple TV+ and Apple Music, it will be up to other developers to get on board and add these capabilities to their apps. However, Apple announced a fairly extensive list of those who had signed on for SharePlay, including big names like Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, NBA, TikTok, MasterClass, and ESPN+.
For the most part, we would expect that each user in a SharePlay session will need to have their own subscription to the content that they’re watching, although that’s largely up to the streaming providers themselves, since SharePlay will effectively just kick the sessions over to the appropriate apps for whatever service you want to share content from.
Apple unlocked SharePlay in the second beta of iOS 15 released in late June, while also owning the door for third-party apps to be tested and submitted to the App Store. Many developers soon began their own TestFlight betas for the feature, and apart from the usual set of problems typical of any new feature, there didn’t seem to be any major reports of problems with Apple’s Developer Forums.
This leaves us scratching our heads as to why Apple would suddenly pull the plug, but we have to assume that it’s come across one or more show-stopping problems that it’s decided it’s not going to have time to resolve in the next few weeks.
By all estimates, iOS 15 will be launching to the public about a month from now, since we’re expecting the new iPhones to land in stores by the third week in September.
While no company has a completely perfect track record, and things do sometimes get missed, Apple has fairly high standards won’t release features that it knows to be buggy or seriously flawed. While we’re disappointed we’ll have to wait a bit longer before SharePlay arrives, at least we can be confident that when it does arrive, it will work the way it’s supposed to.