Telecom & Wireless

Apple's iOS 8 Will Let Family Members Share iTunes Purchases

Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) next mobile operating system, iOS 8, could significantly boost its digital goods business. On Monday, Apple announced a number of upcoming updates to its iOS operating system, including the ability to share iTunes purchases with up to six family members. one of which could make iTunes purchases far more enticing.

Apple adds family sharing
With iOS 8, owners of Apple’s iDevices will be able to share the media they’ve purchased through iTunes with up to six family members. These family members will have to share a single credit card, but with this feature, Apple could entice families to choose iTunes when it comes time to buy digital media.

A husband that buys a book with his iTunes account will be able to share that book with his wife; a mother will be able to share a movie purchased through iTunes with her son, and siblings can share purchased TV episodes with each other. With families owning multiple devices, and often spread out from one another, this feature could prove immensely useful to families that own many of Apple’s mobile devices.

In order to make use of this feature, parents will have to share an iTunes account (and associated credit card) with their children, leaving open the unfortunate possibility that their kids could run up large iTunes bills.

But Apple has included a feature to prevent this — parents will be able approve, or block, iTunes purchases, allowing them to effectively police their childrens’ app and media consumption.

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More than iTunes
Family sharing will extend beyond iTunes purchases, allowing families to easily share other relevant information like calendar events, photos and reminders. Family members will be able to share their location with one another, and parents will even be able to use the popular “Find My iPhone” app on their childrens’ devices.

Photos shared across families will be stored on Apple’s iCloud servers. By default, Apple will give users 5 GB of cloud storage for free, but will also sell low-cost monthly plans ($0.99 per month for 20 GB of storage).

iOS is a family affair
With these new features, Apple has made iOS far more attractive to families. Currently, families may have a mixture of iOS and non-iOS devices — with iOS 8, families will be heavily encouraged to pick a single operating system (Apple’s) and stick to it.