I recently changed how iTunes/iCloud is configured for my family (2 adults, 3 kids with multiple iPhones, iPads and Macs) and wanted to share my experiences.

Previous

  • I created an Apple Family Share (2 adults, 3 kids)
  • For every family member and every device they own (e.g. iPhone, iPad) they use my personal Apple ID for iTunes (apps, movies and book purchases). This was necessary in order to use iTunes Match (see below). This has the added benefit that all purchases are attached to the same iTunes id.
  • Apple Music family subscription with iTunes Match (music I ripped to MP3 on my home computer)
  • Everyone in the family had their own Apple ID which they used for iCloud, iMessage, photos etc. We also have a family shared 2TB iCloud storage plan.

Problems with this configuration

  • Everyone in the family sees each other’s playlists which is problematic since we have 50+ playlists
  • Apple Music can’t recommend music for each of us since we’re all using the same account
  • Only 10 Apple devices can access Apple Music. This means I have to remove devices frequently through iTunes on a computer
  • Kids can purchase apps

New and improved configuration

  • For every family member and every device they own (e.g. iPhone, iPad) they now use their own Apple ID for both iCloud and iTunes.
  • To “migrate” Apple Music playlists that were all under my name, I had to share them via iMessage to each of my family members and they had to create a new playlist. Simply adding the playlist to their library made them non editable. I had a problem with two of my kids not seeing the Apple Music Family subscription. To fix the problem, I had to remove them from my Family Share and re-add them.
  • I still use iTunes Match (music I ripped on my PC) but my wife and kids no longer have access. Some of the playlists my wife and kids had created included songs on iTunes Match which they no longer had access to. In most cases, the songs were available on Apple Music so all they needed to do was remove the song from their playlist and then re-add it from Apple Music.
  • Configured Family Share to require “Ask to Buy” for my kids

 

Problems solved with the new and improved configuration

  • Apple Music provides unique recommendations per family member
  • Apple Music no longer shows all of our playlists. Each family member can create and manage their own playlists. Playlists can be shared with others if desired.
  • Apple Music can now be played on all my family’s devices. When we shared one iTunes id, we were limited to 10 devices. Now each family member can use up to 10 devices.
  • Kids now now request approval to purchase apps
  • Each of us now use our own Apple ID for all services on our devices which keeps things simple. No longer using one Apple ID for one service and another Apple ID for another.

Problem with the new and improved configuration

  • “Ask to Buy” is either on or off for all apps – both free and purchased. I’d like Apple to offer the ability for adults to approve purchases; free apps shouldn’t require approval.
  • iTunes Match only works for me and not my family members. Since we have an Apple Music family subscription, this is less of an issue since Apple Music has most of the music my family listens to. However, I do have a large collection of Old Time Radio episodes in my personal collection and some unique titles not available on Apple Music. With the new configuration, I’m the only one that can listen to them.
  • Movies purchased through iTunes are tough for the kids to access. They have to open iTunes Store, More > Purchased, Tap the family member’s name to see their content. A much better experience is the Movies Anywhere app where all movies are listed since I buy them all in my account.
  • While unrelated to configuring Apple ID’s, I wish Apple would introduce a bundle for Apple Music and iCloud storage. I pay Apple $14.99 a month for an Apple Music family plan and $9.99 for 2TB of storage ($24.98). I’d like a discount for purchasing both services. I purchase discount iTunes gift cards when they go on sale and that helps reduce the cost since the monthly subscription will use gift cards on my account. 15% discounts on Apple iTunes gift cards are common.  The shared family storage plans start at 200GB ($2.99) and jump to 2TB ($9.99). This is too too large of jump in terms of size and cost for me (200GB is too low, 2TB is too much). I’d like to see Apple offer a 1TB option for $5 a month.
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