Apple FaceTime Screen Sharing May Hit iOS 9

FaceTime is a simple way for iOS users to communicate face-to-face across long distances, but if users need to share information on-screen, there's no good way to do it. Apple may be working on a way to address that, as a patent application suggests that consumers may eventually be able to share both their faces and screens simultaneously on iOS devices.

Apple Insider dug up the patent information, which the electronics company first filed in January 2012. The feature, which Apple dubs "interactive application sharing," would work very similarly to the remote desktop feature in Windows, whereby users share exactly what's on their screens with a second user.

MORE: Best Smartwatches

The patent application itself is mostly just technical information, but the bottom line is clear. If Apple implements this technology, users could use FaceTime to share their screens as well as a live video feed. Among other things, users could superimpose their faces over a live feed of their screens, behind the app icons on the main screen, or not at all, letting the shared screen speak for itself.

While this technology would have obvious applications for productivity and tech support, Apple also envisions more casual uses. One of the images it submitted along with the application shows a reader's face superimposed over a digital copy of A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh," which could make long-distance reading aloud a little more immersive. Couples could employ similar techniques for watching movies (although one must wonder how companies like Netflix would react to screensharing).

Because Apple filed the application more than three years ago, it's hard to say if screen sharing will come to iOS 9 later this year. Apple's next mobile OS will put a big emphasis on fast performance, with possible new features, including integrated transit directions and a Google-esque street view for Maps. The software is expected to be available as a public beta this summer.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.