Apple added Family Sharing to iOS and iCloud about a year ago. At the time they announced it, I was really excited to jump right in. Many of the features it added, like shared Reminders lists and Photos albums were things my wife and I were already doing, but it created an opportunity to save some money on App Store purchases, and cut out a few hoops I had been jumping through to get media in places we could both use it without buying twice. The additional features for children seem like useful features, but my kids aren’t old enough to have their own devices (though I’m sure that’s coming sooner than I’d like to believe).
The first year of use has been perfectly fine, but after very little attention during today’s WWDC keynote, I thought I’d sit down and put a wishlist in writing. As far as I can tell, the only benefit for Family Sharing accounts announced today is a family subscription to Apple Music, which seems like a good deal at $14.99 a month for up to six family members vs. $9.99 per user individually.
Many of my wishes don’t involve content, which should make for things that are easy for Apple to implement. I have wondered lately if the company is getting too big to keep track of everything, and if that’s why one year’s big announcement becomes another year’s ancillary feature becomes another year’s forgotten relic.
Shared iCloud storage
This one seems so simple. Apple provides 5GB of iCloud storage per user, which is enough to backup a device or two on an account, depending on how you manage your photos and video. But with more and more things transitioning to iCloud, that storage is—let’s face it—laughable. My wife is far from a power user, and she had to upgrade to the 99¢ per month 20GB plan just to back up her phone and iPad. I made the leap into iCloud Photo Library, and needed more than 20GB, so I am on the $3.99 per month 200GB plan. I currently have roughly 70GB free. It would be great to be able to share that 200GB between all the accounts in my family. It would also be really nice to not have separate 99¢ and $3.99 charges every month at different times, among all the random others.
I’m not sure how this wasn’t included with all the original Family Sharing stuff, but is it that weird to have a Family group in Contacts that allows everyone to have synced versions of common contacts? If grandma gets a new phone, I could change the number in my contacts and have that sync out to all the devices in the whole family.
I have no idea what’s going to happen to iTunes Match when this Apple Music thing launches. (Aside: The Apple Music website says “Apple Music and iTunes Match are independent but complementary,” so it sounds like it lives on. It seems like Apple Music incorporates exactly what iTunes Match is, so I’m not sure how they are complementary.) Anyway, provided there is an iTunes Match after June 30, I’d like to know why it doesn’t allow my family to listen to my library.
This request is probably one of those things that has to be negotiated, so that may very well be my answer, but the fact that every user on my iMac has their own iTunes library (and thereby duplicates of any songs that we each like) is crazy. Everyone should be able to contribute to the Family library, and stream anything not in their own library from iCloud. iCloud should just manage this stuff. That’s what computers are supposed to do best. There would be nothing stopping iTunes from adding a tag to each song with the username who added it, giving dad a way to keep the kids’ pop music out of his oldies with a smart album.
Some of this stuff just makes sense. Family Sharing has been around for a year now, and there’s been no sign since day one that Apple even knows it exists. Am I the only one using this thing?