It was fun when you got that first iPod. Then your wife won an iPad at a work drawing. Then your kid needed an iPad for school. Now the new iPhone is out so you hand your old one down to one of your kids. And on it goes until one day you sit down and realize you have 18 devices for a family of 5 and are not even sure where to start to get them all under control.
Enter the iCloud Family Sharing feature. In 2014 Apple launched this feature and it’s one that we personally think is a lifesaver for families. The concept is this: everyone in your family has their own iCloud accounts BUT you can collective be part of a Family Sharing setup.
It couldn’t be simpler to set up (and Apple has a good page on it):
- Have one of the “Parent/Guardian” accounts go to Settings > iCloud and enable Family Sharing.
- Invite the other members of your family using their iCloud accounts.
- That’s it!
Of course this does imply that you have iCloud accounts set up for everyone and devices that are connected to those iCloud accounts.
Once added you can:
- Download apps/music/videos someone else in your family has already purchased
- View the location of all the devices associated with each of the family members. You can use Find My iPhone to send an alert so even iPods/iPhones/iPads on silent can be found. You can also wipe a phone if it’s been stolen! Of course this only works if the device is on and charged.
- Set certain accounts as “Parent/Guardian” so they can add others. You also set the primary credit card on file for all the accounts so you don’t have to manage multiple accounts with multiple credit cards. The individual accounts can still load their own gift cards, etc., but this is helpful for when you actually want to purchase.
- Share photos and calendars to keep everyone on the same page
The next time your child comes and says, “Dad, I can’t find my iPhone. I’ve looked everywhere”, which for us happens almost hourly on some days, you can just go to your “Find Your iPhone” app, look under your child’s devices and you’re done. Didn’t even have to leave the couch. Thanks Apple, that was easy.