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Getting familiar with Family Sharing

Christopher Breen, Dan Frakes | June 4, 2014
Family Sharing, a feature due to debut with Mac OS X Yosemite, should bring a measure of sanity to households full of Apple devices. The idea behind Family Sharing is simple: You have multiple people in your home and just as many Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch units. And yet there's no good way to share content purchased from Apple's online stores--especially if they were purchased under different Apple IDs--or to coordinate family-focused information among those devices. Family Sharing was designed to address these issues.

Family members can also share their location with each other within the Find My Friends app. If you'd like to confirm that Mom is stuck in traffic, it's easy to do by launching the app. (If a member would prefer to not be tracked, they simply make their location hidden.) Similarly, if your spouse, parent, or child has a habit of misplacing their iOS device you can, you can help them find it using the Find My iPhone app. Family members just turn on the sharing option on their device, and if the device is lost, another member can locate it and command it to play a sound.

Alas, Family Sharing doesn't provide user accounts or profiles, a feature many a parent has been hoping for since at least the first iPad. Rather, Apple still seems content with assuming that "multiple users" means "one iOS device per person." But even though Family Sharing won't help us better share a particular device between multiple family members, at least we'll no longer have to buy multiple copies of an app or tune — or all share a single "Purchasing Apple Stuff" account.


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