Family Sharing iPhone 1

Apple has begun asking its registered Mac and iOS developers to enable Family Sharing in their apps, a feature specifically designed for the upcoming iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite operating systems. As we detailed Monday, Family Sharing allows you to share purchased iTunes media such as apps, books, music and more among up to six devices, without requiring them to use the same Apple ID as Home Sharing.

But not all purchases are eligible for Family Sharing. In fact, Apple is giving developers the freedom to choose whether or not they want their apps to be enabled for Family Sharing and now the firm has started emailing developers suggesting they enable the feature in their iTunes Connect developer portal…

According to Apple’s email to developers, obtained by MacRumors, developers who wish to participate in the Family Sharing program must agree to the new iOS and Mac Paid Applications Agreement in Contracts, Tax and Banking on iTunes Connect.

Apple email to developers (iOS 8 Family Sharing)

For now, Apple is only permitting developers to exclude past purchases from Family Sharing but there are indications they soon will be permitted to turn Family Sharing on and off for future submissions, on a per-item basis. Some watchers have cautioned that going forward, Family Sharing appears to be a requirement for selling in the App Store.

Of course, Apple has had a similar feature in iTunes called Home Sharing available for years now. Home Sharing lets you share iTunes media across devices authorized with the same Apple ID.

Family Sharing is more feature packed and less restrictive.

For starters, it makes it even easier to share iTunes media and apps among up to six devices that may have been purchased under different Apple IDs. And it’s awesome because it uses a single iTunes billing method of a “parent” device to approve any purchase made on device that accepted a parent’s Family Sharing invitation.

It’s arguably the best way to share iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite apps, games, books and other iTunes media across family-owned Macs, iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

According to Apple’s iOS 8 webpage:

Family Sharing is a new way to bring harmony to your family’s digital life. Up to six people in your family can share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store without sharing accounts.

Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. Easily share photos, a family calendar, and more to help keep everyone connected.

For example, parents can set up Family Sharing on their kids’ devices so little Johny or Mary must first tap a button in the App Store to ask for permission to buy iTunes media. Doing so will immediately push an alert to a parent’s device asking them to remotely approve the purchase, on a per-item basis.

iOS 8 Family Sharing (Ask Permission 002)iOS 8 Family Sharing (Ask Permission 001)

Parents can also choose to hide any app, movie, TV show or book from sharing and parental controls apply on a per-device basis as well. Family Sharing does not work at the moment for rentals, subscriptions or in-app purchases.

Will you be using Family Sharing, do you think?

I like it that Family Sharing allows me to share my apps with my Mom, who uses her own Apple ID without a billing method, without having to share my Apple ID or password with her.

  • ChaosARG

    Will this work with devices out of the US?

    • That’s a good question. I imagine it will because each Family Sharing device can still use its own Apple ID. On the other hand, regional restrictions apply to anything sold in iTunes and developers can choose the countries to sell their apps so there could be some limitations here.

      • David Gitman

        I have a question. how do you hide the carrier name? I see only WIFI and reception

      • Anthony Nguyen

        You need to jailbreak. If you are running iOS 7.1+ then you’re out of luck.

      • David Gitman

        I am using ios 8 beta but as I looking at this photo

        its hidden

      • Joseph A. Ahmad

        From what I can tell, these are pictures from Apple’s website. Apple always displays pictures of iPhones running without a carrier, maybe to avoid looking biases, and maybe because they don’t have permission to use the carrier’s name on their website. This could be the reason.

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    Unless I’m not understanding this correctly but is Apple basically asking developers “Do you want to give your apps for free to an entire household if one person has bought it?”. If this is the case I bet there’s going to be a lot of greedy developers not enabling Home Sharing…

    • Mike

      Actually, most families use the same ID for the iTunes and App Store already…so they only buy everything once already. This is just the right way to do it on apples side so that people don’t have to all link to one account and share that password. I am very happy to see this and will definitely be using it. The added features of purchase requests/approvals are just a bonus.

    • Kurt

      They have to use the same credit card. I just don’t see this being successful.

    • Obsidian71

      They risk losing sales if Apple somehow highlights apps that support Family Share with a small icon of some sorts. Families will gravitate towards apps that give them the features they want. For developers it is an opportunity to sell more in-app purchases. A lot of games are going free anyways with IAP providing the revenue.

      • Agru

        oh nooooooo!

  • Mark Babatunde

    Quick Question, I’m about to start iOS Development this summer with Swift. Does anyone know where I can get a cheap Mac Mini that will run OS X 10.10 Yosemite?

  • I generally like the idea behind Family Sharing but it requires all users to use the same credit card — we don’t actually use a credit card at all though, instead we just buy iTunes gift cards and use that credit for paying for all our iTunes purchases. Not sure if there will be some kind of option to still be able to use the Family Sharing feature…

  • TonyCr

    I guess it’s too much to hope for that you could share across stores (assuming the app is available in both stores). My account is in the US store and my wife’s is in the Thailand store. She buys nothing, only getting free apps. It would be nice if I could buy one for her to use.