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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.

You as family organizer also have the choice to disband the group altogether. To do that, tap your name on the Family screen and tap Stop Family Sharing. You will keep the family calendar, reminders, and shared photo albums that were once shared with the family, but family members won't have access to them nor will they be able to track your location or use Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod for your devices. And just as when someone leaves the group, they also lose the ability to use purchased apps (and in-app purchases made in free apps) as well as purchased media. They're welcome to purchase their own copies of once-shared apps and media.

Note that if you have a child member as part of your family group, you must transfer them before you can disband the group. As in real life, it's not cool to leave under-age kids unattended.

About restrictions

iOS 8's Family Sharing is fairly flexible but it does have a few restrictions. As we've mentioned, you can have up to six members in a group. Each Apple ID can be associated with just one family group at a time. And you can switch between groups no more than twice per year.

Get in on the family plan

What once required countless workarounds and some clever configuration now demands just a few minutes of your time. When you're finished you'll better be able to plan family events, share and comment on photos taken by your kinfolk, treat the family to eligible apps and media with a single purchase, and find out if Sheila was telling the truth when she said she'd stopped hanging out with Biff two whole weeks ago. If you have a family laden down with iOS devices, Family Sharing is something you should explore.


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