For iOS 8, it’s all about family sharing
My daughter approaches me with those eyes to which only a father can fall victim and asks, “Dad, I found a game I want for my iPad. Can I get it?”
“Give me the name and I’ll look at it,” I reply.
I try to memorize the name of the app so I can follow through on my promised research. Ten minutes later, I’ve all but forgotten the name and the request is nothing more than one of a thousand questions asked by my kids on a daily basis—all of which are forgotten. (I’m a good dad, honest.)
The next day she asks, “Dad, did you look at that game? Can you put it on my iPad now?”
“Sorry sweetie, I forgot. What was the name again?”
This dance is repeated several times. Frustration builds on both sides of the purchase equation. She is annoyed that I haven’t actually read up on the app. I’m irked that she keeps asking.
Eventually I end up reviewing the game on her iPad with her sitting next to me. It looks fine; she can download it. Which means I have to sign in using my Apple ID on her device. If I weren’t home, she would have to wait for me to get back to go through the sign-in process. (Her mother, I should note, wants no part of this.)
As you can imagine, this situation happens relatively frequently. Which leaves this overworked and distracted father thinking: There’s got to be a better way to approve app purchases. I’m not always around, but come on! These are connected devices we’re talking about. Fairly simple technology can solve this.
A solution is likely to arrive this fall, when Apple begins to make iOS 8 available on new versions of its iPhone, iPad, and iPod. In the new version of its mobile operating system is a feature called Family Sharing, intended for groups of people who are tired of sharing Apple IDs and first announced in June during its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
I can’t wait to start using it. Instead of forcing a family to use one Apple ID for iTunes purchases yet manage separate personal Apple IDs for iCloud services, people with iOS 8 installed on their devices need only share the same payment information across multiple Apple IDs in order to share purchases from each account. Up to six accounts can be linked, which means my entire family can download apps at will and have Dad foot the bill.
Which means I no longer have to sign into iTunes on every iOS device in my house using my personal Apple ID and password. Which means my wife and daughter will both sign into their respective devices using their own usernames and passwords. Which means Apple customer service will stop receiving emails from a panicked husband asking why his wife is receiving all of his iMessage conversations on her iPhone.
Family Sharing comes with a few additional benefits. It will automatically enable a shared family calendar, iCloud photo album, Reminders list, and the abilities to view a family member’s location through Find My Friends and find a family member’s lost device using Find My iPhone. It’s not hard to see how this functionality could be applied to a small business that can’t afford complicated server software to manage a fleet of devices (let alone a staff member to manage said software).
Apple is expected to introduce a new iPhone on September 9; when that happens, it’s likely that the official release of iOS 8 won’t be far behind. Which means it won’t be long before a scene like this enters my life:
My daughter looks through the App Store and finds an app or game she thinks she would enjoy. She taps on the purchase button and is shown a prompt letting her know I have received an alert on my iPhone or iPad. The alert on my device informs me one of my children would like to purchase an app, but I’m in a meeting, so it reminds me later. When that happens, I tap on the “Review” button, which takes me directly to the App Store where I can read more about the app. I deem it appropriate and allow her to install it.
When I return home, she approaches me with those eyes again. But this time, she says, “Dad, will you play this game with me?”
“Logged In” is Fortune’s personal technology column, written by Jason Cipriani. Read it on Fortune.com each Tuesday.