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Does Apple TV have group watch? (Or Watch Party)

As an Apple TV owner, I’ve been frustrated trying to figure out if there’s a way to have a group watch party with friends and family. After doing some research and testing, I’m here to share what I learned. Does Apple TV have a group watch feature? And if so, how do you set it up? In this blog post, I’ll provide the answers to these questions, as well as other solutions I discovered along the way.

It is possible to enjoy group watching with Apple TV using multiple methods, depending on your preferred apps as well as the apps and devices your friends intend to use. 

Apple TV can be used to group watch different forms of media
A watch party involves multiple people streaming the same content
The “Watch with Friends” app allows hosting group watch parties
Apple’s SharePlay feature can be used to host watch parties on iOS

Does Apple TV have group watch?

Yes. Apple TV does have the ability to group watch various forms of media using the device.

As of the end of 2020, Apple has unveiled numerous apps and methods that allow Apple TV device owners the ability to stream and watch their favorite shows with the ones who mean the most with features dubbed ‘watch parties’. 

What is a watch party? 

A watch party is defined as an action involving multiple individuals who are able to stream or watch the same content simultaneously while using separate devices. 

Read more: Why won’t my Apple TV stay signed in?

How to use group watch on Apple TV?

Using group watch on Apple TV is possible by downloading the “Watch with Friends” app as well as by using the “SharePlay” feature on a device when all parties attending the group watch are Apple or iOS users. 

Read more: How far away can AirPods be tracked?

How can I use SharePlay to host a group watch party with Apple TV?

If you want to streamline the process of hosting a group watching party with your Apple friends, you can do so with SharePlay, a feature exclusive to Apple/iOS devices. To host a watch party using SharePlay and Apple devices (only), complete the following steps:

  • Open your preferred iOS device, such as your Apple iPhone or your iPad tablet.
  • Swipe upwards once the FaceTime call option loads. 
  • Select a video streaming application that is compatible with SharePlay.

What video apps are compatible with SharePlay?

Before you can begin streaming content with others using Apple’s SharePlay feature, you will need to download and install your preferred (and approved by Apple) video platform. The following video apps are currently approved for use with SharePlay:

  • TikTok
  • Twitch
  • Disney+
  • UFC
  • Paramount+
  • NBA: Live Games
  • MasterClass
  • Pantaya
  • MUBI
  • Apple TV

You can also opt to stream audio and other forms of media using a range of approved apps from the Apple store, such as:

  • Popshop Live
  • Asana Rebel
  • Flow
  • Kahoot!
  • Apollo for Reddit
  • Heads Up!
  • Cameo
  • SmartGym
  • Whiteboard
  • Redfin
  • Translate Now
  • Night Sky
  • Piano with Friends

Once all parties have the app(s) that you intend to use during the watch party installed, you can launch your Apple watch party via SharePlay. 

How do I end a SharePlay session using my Apple TV?

Once you are done streaming with friends and sharing the content on your stream with your guests, you will need to disconnect your Apple TV from the SharePlay feature.

To end a SharePlay session when using your AppleTV device to host a watch party, complete the following steps:

  • Open the control center using your Apple TV remote. You can do this by pressing and holding the television icon button on your Apple TV remote directly. You may need to hold the button for 1-3 seconds in order for the control center to launch.
  • Select the SharePlay button and icon.
  • Select “Stop SharePlay” to stop the streaming of your content and to disconnect from anyone who is in your SharePlay room or streaming content with you.

Is it possible to use SharePlay with other Apple devices?

Yes. Using SharePlay is also possible when joining sessions while using FaceTime (which requires an Apple iOS smartphone), as well as when using an iPad.

How do I use the “Watch with Friends” app on my Apple TV device? 

Using the “Watch with Friends” app is highly advisable for users of iOS, Android, and Chrome, as this app is compatible with the most popular operating systems on the market today.

To get started with the “Watch with Friends” app, complete the following steps: 

  1. Download and install the “Watch with Friends” app from the Google Play store or the Apple library. All parties who are planning to join in on the watch party will need to have a copy of the Watch with Friends app installed and active on their preferred device. 
  2. As the host of the watch party, launch the Watch with Friends app from within your preferred streaming device. 
  3. Select “Create a New Party” once your app has loaded.
  4. Paste a link from your preferred video-streaming platform, such as Netflix. This is the streaming link that will be publicly shared with all of the individuals who you invite to your watch party.
  5. Scroll through seasons and episodes if you are watching a TV show with others to find the appropriate stream.
  6. Create a name for your party that is exclusive to the guest list you intend to invite.
  7. Choose a 4-digit PIN that is secure and only shares it with those you are inviting to your watch party. Anyone who has your 4-digit pin and your room name will have the ability to enter into your watch party at all times, so keep it as private as necessary.
  8. Invite your friends and family directly from the app after naming your group and selecting a 4-digit pin.
  9. Once you have invited your family and friends and completed the naming process, you will be presented with various devices that are available near you.
  10. Choose “Apple TV” to begin broadcasting your watch party to your Apple TV device while allowing your family and friends to tag along with a live viewing from their own devices. 

What else is the “Watch with Friends” app compatible with?

While Apple TV’s SharePlay is only available exclusively for Apple device owners, the “Watch with Friends” app is much more versatile and has much more compatibility with various devices and operating systems.

Watch with Friends is not only available for Apple TV device users, but also for those using iOS smartphones, Android smartphones, and even Google Chrome on a traditional desktop browser.  

How do I end a watch party when I am using the “Watch with Friends” app?

  • Once you are done streaming with friends using the “Watch with Friends” app, open the app (it should still be open somewhere on your device).
  • Select “Leave Party”. This should immediately disconnect you from your Watch with Friends party, effectively stopping the stream. The stream will only stop if you are the host of the party and if you are the one who originally shared/streamed the content yourself.

Does everyone joining the watch party need to own an Apple TV device? 

Yes and no. If you intend to use SharePlay to launch your watch party, those who are planning to join will need to own an active Apple/iOS device, such as an iPhone or an iPad tablet.

However, if you choose the “Watch with Friends” alternative, you can steam your media with friends who are using Chrome, iOS devices, or even Android smartphones without requiring exclusive operating systems or brands. 

Pros of Group watch with Apple TV

  • SharePlay feature allows friends and family to join the watch party without needing an Apple TV device.
  • Watch with Friends app is compatible with multiple devices and operating systems.
  • The app can be used to stream audio and other forms of media.
  • The watch party can be customized with a name, 4-digit pin, and even a streaming link.

Cons of Group watch with Apple TV

  • SharePlay is only available for Apple/iOS users.
  • The app is limited to streaming with friends who already have the app installed.
  • The host of the watch party must be the one to initiate the streaming process.
  • The watch party host must also be the one to end the stream, otherwise the stream will not disconnect.