Wednesday, April 15, 2015

iCloud Family Sharing: you can mix old style and new style sharing, but there's at least one bug

My family does old school iOS media sharing.

Everyone has their own Apple ID for iCloud, but we all use my App Store ID [1]. So we can all share media, apps and the like.

Modern iCloud Family Sharing has advantages though, and Apple is already making old school sharing harder

Which leads to a question.

Say I configure Family Sharing for the 5 of us. [2] Can I mix-and-match old and new family sharing? If #2’s App Store ID is set to my current App Store ID, will he still be able to do old-school sharing?

I think Apple frowns on changing App Store IDs, there may be a limit…

- fn -

[1] Which is different from my iCloud Apple ID because of “.Mac". Don’t think about it too much.

[2] Max of 6 per family, which was once not an unusually large family.

Update 4/16/15 - Reports from

… You can change Apple ID's, download an app and change right back. I do this for apps that I paid for IAP’s with an old account before Family Sharing…

… we do both … although family sharing has not become relevant yet, the old way of sharing apps is more convenient…

When I setup Family Sharing I found that my personal iCloud account was the “Organizer” account, but after entering those credentials my App Store Apple ID was the default for the purchase account. So Apple keeps those two separate.

I did run into a problem — Apple doesn’t provide purchase controls for adults; they didn’t think of special needs or guardianship. Happily, if I leave my old shared credentials as iTunes and App Store old rules apply — the Family Member is asked for my pw to make a purchase. I think if I switched the iTunes and App Store credentials to the user’s iCloud credentials they’d be asked for their Password at time of purchase — but that still requires my help, the kids don’t know their Apple ID passwords yet. So this problem has a workaround…

Thus far the best part of Family Sharing is iOS 8.3 “Find My iPhone”. It now lists everyone’s devices — and several devices that are gone from this earth.

Update 4/18/15: Not working quite as expected.

To recap, the kids have their own iCloud accounts, but the App Store/iTunes credentials are my .mac credentials, which are not my iCloud credentials.

Yeah, this is problematic. We need a way to merge Apple IDs.

In this configuration when they try to buy something I need to enter the .mac credentials. Even when I do that, however, they get a notice that the transaction needs to be approved. That’s fine, but the approval request never gets generates a notification against my Organizer iCloud account. I have an OS X user account bound to the .mac credentials, but that doesn’t get a notification either. So for now I’ve disabled Ask to Buy.

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