Families are increasingly using multiple iOS devices to share information, data and media between members. Till now App Store and iTunes purchases were tied to a single account, and your data was tied to a single iCloud account. So if you wanted to sync either of these, you needed to be signed in from the same Apple ID from all accounts.
iOS 8 introduces a new feature called Family Sharing that makes this entire process a whole lot simpler by removing the requirement to be signed in to the same account across all devices. So your spouse could use their own account, but also be able to access apps and media you’ve purchased, location of your devices, shared reminders and more without needing your password.
You start off Family Sharing by setting it up with your account, and then inviting all the members in your family. As the organiser, you authorise members to use your credit card for iTunes and App Store purchases. Members will receive an invite detailing the information they can share, with an option to accept or decline the invitation.
So what all can you share with Family Sharing? Here’s a list:
After you setup Family Sharing, iOS 8 automatically creates a shared Photo Stream where you can share photos and videos, and also comment on these items. These photos and videos are synced across all the devices that are tied to Family Sharing.
Calendar and Reminder lists
Family Sharing also sets up a shared Family Calendar in the Calendar app so that any member can add events that’ll be available on all devices. You can similarly add a reminder tied to a time or a location that’ll show up on all other members’ devices.
Find My Friends
Family Sharing can also optionally set up location sharing between family members in the Find My Friends app. You can optionally hide your locations for times when you don’t want members to know your locations, for instance when you want to give your Dad a surprise.
Find My iPhone
If any of your family member’s device is lost or stolen, you can track its location using your device, and play a sound to locate it if it’s nearby.
iTunes and App Store purchases
The biggest advantage of Family Sharing is having access to all apps, music, books, movies and videos you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store without having to know the password of the parent account. This works for a maximum of six family members, who can share the same credit card.
You of course don’t want your kids to have the ability to buy games without your permission. Family Sharing has a really neat system for this. Kids can ask their parents for permission to buy an app, and the parent is them prompted to accept or deny this request. You can also create iTunes accounts for kids below the age of 13.
Family Sharing makes having multiple iOS devices for members in your family much easier, where you no longer have to share your password with everyone to share the most important types of data. I can’t wait to have this available on all iOS devices in my family. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.