Convenient though Apple's online media emporiums may be, one convenience they lacked was an easy way to share purchased apps, music, and books among family members. To share an app purchased by Mom with little Leonidas, you had to sign out of one iTunes account on the tot's iPod touch, sign in with Mom's ID, and download her copy. Thanks to iOS 8's new Family Sharing feature, that may no longer be necessary. Here's how the new system works.
Setting up Family Sharing
On a device running iOS, 8 tap Settings > iCloud > Set Up Family Sharing. A Family Sharing window appears that outlines the benefits of this scheme. Those benefits include the ability to share purchased music, movies, books, and eligible apps. (Currently, many apps are not yet eligible.) You can also share photos and videos in an automatically created Family photo stream; share your location with family members; schedule events in a just-as-automatically created Family calendar; and help family members find their missing devices. Tap the blue Get Started link to begin the setup process.
In the resulting window, you are proclaimed the family organizer. With this power you can invite others to the Family Sharing account and pay for your and their purchases from the iTunes, iBooks, and App stores. The image and email address associated with your Apple ID account is shown here. If that's not the account you wish to use, tap "Not [your name] or want to use a different ID?" You're then told that you must go to iCloud Settings, sign out with the currently active Apple ID, and sign in with the one you wish to use. If you're happy with the chosen ID tap Continue.
The resulting Share Purchases window informs you that you will soon share iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases made using the chosen account. Unless you impose restrictions on family members, they will be able to view and download all of your purchased content. Tap Continue to, well, continue.
In the Payment Method window that appears you'll see the credit card associated with your account. You'll also be informed about the Ask to Buy option, where you can demand that child members get your permission before purchasing something from one of Apple's online stores. (You can learn more by tapping the Managing Family Purchases link in this window.) Having digested this information, tap Continue once again.
The next window, Share Your Location With Your Family, allows you to share your location information with all of your family members. Your location will appear in the Messages and Find My Friends apps. This is useful for when the family is wondering if Dad is going to make it home in time to fix dinner or whether it's a better idea to send out for pizza. When you tap Share Your Location, family members will also be able to track your device's location via Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod. You can skip this step for now by tapping Not Now and then setting it up later in iCloud settings. (If, at any time, you don't want the family to know where you are, go to Settings > iCloud > Share My Location and toggle off the Share My Location switch.)
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