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Get to know iOS 8: Family Sharing sets your iTunes purchases free

Christopher Breen | Sept. 23, 2014
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.

On an iOS device a Share Purchases screen appears where they enter their Apple ID and password to share the items they've purchased from Apple. They then agree to Apple's terms and conditions, choose whether to share their location, and they then become a member in good standing of the group. Their status changes in the Family Members list to either Adult or Age X if they're under 13 years of age.

Managing existing members

Once you've added all the family members you care to (you can have up to six people in your family sharing group) you can then manage or remove them. To do so, tap on a member's name.

If you've tapped on a member who has an adult account versus a child account, you have the power to switch on a Parent/Guardian switch that grants that person the ability to approve Ask to Buy requests from children. This would let Aunt Vilma approve purchases from little JoJo when Mom's on yet another globe-trotting adventure. And if it turns out that any one of your family members are on the outs as the result of a serious disagreement or an adult child leaves the basement because they've finally secured a job, you an easily remove them by tapping their name and then the Remove button. When you choose to remove them they will immediately lose all access to the family's shared content and services. Shared apps will remain on their devices but they'll have to pungle up if they wish to continue using them.

In the case of a child member, you can choose to enable or disable the Ask to Buy option. For instance, precocious Miffy is responsible enough at age 12 to choose what she wishes to buy rather than have to run to Cousin Jasper so he can grudgingly approve the purchase of yet another GTD app.

What about the children?

Child members under the age of 13 can not be removed, but they can be transferred to a different family group. For example, young Master Charles has lived with Mumsy for the past two years, and now it's Pater's turn. To transfer Charlie to his father's group, Dad must send an invite to join his family members. When Mother agrees (via a message on the Home screen of her device or within Settings > iCloud > Invitations), Dad agrees to the parental consent form and provides a security code for the credit card associated with his account. Chuck is then removed from his mother's group and transferred to dad's.

Child members over the age of 13 have the ability to declare their independence once they come of age. Because you had to enter their birthday as part of the setup process, their device knows when they've crossed the line that separates pre-teen and teenager. When that day arrives they can choose to leave the family group by tapping Settings > iCloud > Family, tapping their name, and then tapping Leave Family.


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