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Apple unveils Family Sharing, lets parents spread media across devices

Apple is making sharing with family members less of a pain, unveiling a new feature for iOS 8 that streamlines media sharing across multiple devices.

The new function, called Family Sharing, seems designed to give relief to weary parents during family vacations. Users now have the ability to share photo streams, calendars, reminders and Find My Friends (requires parental permission) to every device designated as a part of the family network. A household can have as many as six devices, and content can be set for automatic sharing across the whole network.        

“With Family Sharing you can get at your purchases but also the purchases of members of your family. You just click right through and download. For up to six family members,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s vice president of Software Engineering. 

Aside from sharing photos and schedules, parents can also use the feature to horn in on their kids’ downloads. If you suspect that your son has better taste in music than you do, you can investigate by downloading his music collection on your iPhone — without re-paying for anything. Every device included in a family sharing network can download content that someone else in the group bought. Aside from music, apps and movies can also be shared. Of course, there’s a catch. All downloads must be paid through a single credit card. So that may require some maneuvering if there are at least two adults in the group (like mom and dad) before purchases can be made. However, the feature does have benefits in terms of controlling purchases, since the feature would send notifications to parents whenever their children makes a purchase. This basically gives them veto power over their children’s spending.

The Family Sharing feature was unveiled during Apple’s Worldwide Developers’s Conference in San Francisco. It is similar to Microsoft’s Kid’s Corner feature on Windows Phone 8, which allows parents to put their phones in a special kids mode that restricts access to only specified apps

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