Apple wants its next iPhone operating system to replace your refrigerator magnets.
At Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi introduced the new Family Sharing features of iOS 8, which will allow dedicated Apple households to share nearly all their i-content with up to six other i-family members.
“When I was a kid, the refrigerator was the center of family sharing,” Federighi said. “Now in iOS 8 we’ve made it that easy to set up your family on their iOS devices.”
There are three key features of Family Sharing:
• You can share photos, calendars, and reminder lists among all family members. Everyone in the family group can access the “Find My Friends” and “Find My [device]” features to locate other family members or missing phones. Adults can turn off these features on their handsets when they don’t want to be found; it’s not clear if children can as well.
• You can also share most of the songs, movies, ebooks, apps, and other purchased media among all members of your family — provided that you’ve used the same credit card to buy each one. Prediction: Your teenagers are going to hate this.
• When your kids try to run up your Visa bills by buying yet another episode of Teen Wolf or a power-up inside Candy Crush, you automatically get an alert on your i-device asking you to authorize the purchase. (They’re really going to hate that.) This is a welcome feature that should have been introduced a long time ago.
iOS 8’s new Family Sharing feature isn’t that new. Conceptually, it’s not much different from — wait for it — the Family Group feature found on Microsoft Windows phones. You could also implement some of this data sharing using Google apps on Android phones and the family tracking features available from the major telecoms for a nominal monthly fee.
But having it all baked into the operating system means more people will use these tools. It’s also more likely to make families standardize across one type of device for everyone in the house — and that’s really the point.
Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.