When Apple announced SharePlay at WWDC, I was less blown away by the possibility of discovering a movie, TV show, or song with friends, and much more interested in the screen sharing it allows.
As well implemented as the shared entertainment experience may seem, it looks like a feature that has narrowly missed the mark in most parts of the world. With COVID regulations loosening in many places (I’ll let you decide whether or not this is the right call for your area), I expect a lot of people to spend less time apart from each other, stay indoors and stay in touch via screens.
Although minimized by Apple, screen sharing has been sorely lacking at FaceTime for years. Competitive services like Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, Teams, and Slack have a long history of having this feature, making them essential tools for productivity and technical support.
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Screen sharing has also been available on Mac for some time, but it is hidden and only works on Mac, not your other Apple devices (unless you want to complicate your life with QuickTime).
Apple is not really Showcase SharePlay’s screen sharing capability as a tech support tool, but I think that’s where most of its usefulness will lie. While Apple expects people to “browse apartment listings, browse a photo album, or plan your next group vacation,” I think I’ll (and maybe you) use this feature primarily for remotely troubleshoot a family member’s Apple device.
As a person who is in tech, I’m the general tech support guru for my friends and family (and by extension all of their friends too). I’m sure a lot of iPlus readers will tell.
It doesn’t matter if your non-tech savvy family members are using the best iPhone and iPad models or not, they will run into issues at some point and turn to you for help. If you’re not in the same room with them, you can’t just fix it for them and not being able to see what they are describing makes it much more difficult to diagnose and fix their problem.
With SharePlay’s screen sharing, you will be able to see your friend or relative’s screen in real time and ask them to show you the problem, guide them through the operating system and hopefully to solve the problem. For software troubleshooting, when a setting has been toggled by mistake or they don’t know how to accomplish something on their device, this is a great way to troubleshoot it together remotely.
While Apple’s site suggests SharePlay is only for shared media experiences, its senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, praised the tech support use case during WWDC’s keynote address. : “Screen sharing is also a simple and very effective way to help someone and answer questions on the go, and it works on all Apple devices.”
Of course, Apple won’t be showcasing any of its new iOS 15 features as a troubleshooting method (its products are great and still work great, after all). But I’m sure Apple employees are also go-to tech support people for their own friends and families.
What do you think? Do you think SharePlay will prove useful for remote tech support? Let us know in the comments.