Back To The Fifties With Apple Family Sharing


[ Read this in Dutch ]

Who would have thought that Apple, of all companies, wants to keep their customers firmly rooted in the fifties?

Yes, you can buy early rock’n’roll music in iTunes, but those are not the fifties I mean. Rather, I’m referring to the fifties of traditional family roles: a breadwinner and a homemaker, preferably with daddy as the former and mommy as the latter.

Apple offers Family Sharing: all family members can connect their Apple IDs into a family, and share their Apple-based purchases within the family. Also, purchases can be set up so that all adults (parents) in the family can approve purchases initiated by the kids.

For instance, if Danny wants to buy Minecraft on his iPad, before he can make the purchase an approval request pops up on Mom’s iPhone and Dad’s iPad, and they can decide whether to allow the purchase.

And after Mom approves the purchase, the app is available to all family members. So Mom and Dad can install Minecraft as well, and so can Suzie, and the four of them can play multiplayer Minecraft to their hearts’ content.

So far, so good, right?

Wrong.

The trouble starts when a purchase needs to be paid for. In Apple Family Sharing, one of the adults is the initiator of the family group, and only the initiator can hold a payment method for the entire family. Worse, the initiator can have only a single payment method.

Why is that bad?

Well, for one, any purchase any of the kids want to make is debited to that single credit card. So one parent has to pay for all kids’ purchases, and if they want to spend their allowance on the purchase (so refund the parent for the purchase), that one parent is the only one they can arrange this with.

What’s worse: the same goes for all the other adults in the family group. Specifically, if Dad was the initiator of the group, every purchase Mom wants to make is paid with Dad’s credit card (or vice versa). So Dad see and know about all purchases Mom makes, and Mom has to refund him (or vice versa).

In a modern family, with two (or more) adults who each have their own income, and take responsibility for their own choices and spending, this straddles the line between ridiculous and offensive.

Apple, you must do better.