Before Family Sharing, there was Home Sharing, which allowed you to share apps and media with your family by having an Apple ID that contained the purchases to be used on up to five computers and an unlimited number of iOS devices. For your family to make purchases with that Apple ID, they either know the password to that Apple ID (which also means they can access your passwords, credit card information, documents), or they have to go to the account holder every time they want to purchase an app or music.
Now with iOS 8 there is Family Sharing and it does not require sharing an Apple ID. Instead your family of five (six including yourself) each have their own Apple ID with the same credit card and can download apps and iTunes. Your family does have to have their Apple ID based in the same country. Also, parents can approve their kids’ purchases right from their device. Besides managing the App Store and iTunes purchases, Family Sharing can help you track where your children are using Find My Friends and can help find their lost devices using Find my iPhone.
Family Sharing also allows you to easily create a shared family calendar and shared family reminder list that anyone in the family can view and edit. It also creates a shared family photo album. In this how to, I will discuss how to set up Family Sharing and how to use it.
There are two different places to set up Family Sharing. The first time you open up the App Store or iTunes on your device there is a pop up that asks if you want to set up Family Sharing. If you did choose not now, do not worry because you can set it up later under your iCloud settings. Once you are there tap on Set Up Family Sharing, and then tap on Get Started.
Family Sharing starts with having one person be in control of the family, the Family Organizer, who sends out the invitations and sets it up by inviting the rest of their family members. By designating yourself as the Family Organizer you agree to pay for the iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases your family makes. If you want to add a photo to yourself, you can press add photo. It is optional, if not press continue.
Then you have the option to share purchases. This is when you choose which Apple ID you want to share iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases. The five other members in your family are able to view and download any of your purchases.
For Family Sharing, it does require you to have a valid method of payment on file.
Once you enter in your credit card information you are able to continue. Here it shows you which credit card is on file with Apple, and what will be used for purchases. However, if there is store credit or an iTunes gift card in the account, that will be used for the purchases instead of the credit card only if it can cover the whole amount. Earlier I mentioned that parents can approve their kids’ purchases right from their device, which is exactly what using Ask to Buy means. The Family Organizer and any parent/guardian will be able to see the purchase request and allow them to buy it or not. Ask to Buy is turned on automatically for children under the age of 13, and it can be set up so that way children between the ages of 13 to 17 have to Ask to Buy as well.
After pressing Continue it informs you about sharing your location with your family members. Your location would be shared when using Messages, Find My Friends and Find My iPhone. You can always set this up later under your iCloud Settings.
Now you have Family Sharing set up. This is where you are able to add other family members, see the credit card information on file, and create an Apple ID for a child, especially for the children who are under the age of 13.
To add a family member, press on the words Add Family Member in blue right below where you are listed. Then you type in the family member’s name or email address. It will then want you to enter in your password for your iCloud account.
When you invite a family member, they will receive an email from Apple stating that you have invited them to Family Sharing. Your family member does have to be using iOS 8 in order to accept the invitation. When you press View Invitation, it opens up their iCloud Settings and asks if they want to accept the invitation for Family Sharing. By pressing accept they become part of the family and can now share apps. The Family Organizer will receive a notification on their device when their invited family member accepts the invitation.
To create an Apple ID for a child you are going to press the link that says Create an Apple ID for a child. By doing this, the child is automatically added to the Family account until they are at least 13 years old. Once you go through this it asks for the security code on the back of the credit card, to verify that you are the Family Organizer that actually set it up. It will then be the standard procedures you do for creating an Apple ID normally but with some variation. It asks for their name, having you create an email address for them @icloud.com, emphasizes creating a password that is memorable to the Family Organizer and child that contains at least 8 characters with a number and a capital letter, creating three security questions and answers that will be memorable for the Family Organizer, deciding whether or not to use Ask To Buy, and deciding to share your child’s location with your family members.
In-App purchases are not supported by Family Sharing. So if your children are playing games with the pseudo-currency, or if they are playing games that require in-app purchases to get to the full version these you would be paying for twice. Most apps are now compatible for Family Sharing. However, developers do have the option to opt out of enabling their apps to be used with Family Sharing. When you are viewing the description of the app in the App Store, there is now a label that will say Family Sharing. If it says yes, that means the app is compatible with Family Sharing and can be redownloaded by other family members, before the existence of Family Sharing.
To see what your family members have purchased or to download their purchases go to the Purchased section in the App Store, iBooks or iTunes. Then you are able to select which family member’s purchases you would like to view or download. This also includes the ability to redownload content that was purchased with a different Apple ID and different credit card.
You do have the option to limit what your family sees purchased by hiding the purchase. That way once it is hidden, that item will not be shared with other family members so they cannot view them or download them. To hide the item go to the Purchased section and swipe from right to left. Then a Hide button will appear in red.
Now that Family Sharing is all set up, let’s talk about the other benefits it has besides sharing purchases.
With Family Sharing, you can easily automatically share the location with the rest of your family using Find My Friends or in the Messages app. This is a nice benefit in case you happen to be running late to an event, or if you want to check up on your child and make sure they made it to their destination. If you do not want to share your location, you are able to disable your sharing your location under Share My Location in the iCloud settings. With the Find My iPhone app, it is now easier for parents to help children find their lost devices, as their devices will appear listed.
Family Sharing automatically creates a Family calendar and a Family reminders list in everyones iCloud. It is set up so that way everyone can view the calendar. They would receive notifications when something changes or when something is added. The Family Organizer can decide whether or not everyone in the family can add things, or make changes to the calendar. The same is true for the Reminders app.
With Family Sharing, a shared album is set up automatically in the Photos app on everyone in the family’s devices. This enables everyone the capability to contribute to the album by adding pictures and videos. When this happens the family will be notified when something new is added to the album.
Family Sharing is designed to make sharing content with the family easier. Let us know if you are using Family Sharing or are going to be using Family Sharing, and what your impressions are in the comments.