Cloud options for iPhones and iPads
It may sit quite a long way down the list of options in the iOS Settings panel, but iCloud is now one of the key technologies that sits right at the heart of both iOS and Yosemite. When it was first launched back in 2011, iCloud was really just designed for syncing emails and photos between your iPhone and your Mac. However, it has now matured into a sophisticated cloud storage system that can share all sorts of personal information across multiple devices.
One of the most important new features that was added to iCloud in iOS 8 is Family Sharing. This allows one person - known as the 'organiser' - to create a special 'family group', and to then invite up to five family members to join that group. Family Sharing works on devices running iOS 8, Yosemite on Macs, and even on PCs running Windows (though you'll need to download the iCloud for Windows software from the Apple web site).
The only restriction here is that the organiser has to be an adult, with a credit card linked to their Apple ID account. The organiser agrees to pay for any purchases made by members of the family group, and any purchases made by any member of the group are automatically made available to everyone else in the group. But don't worry - there are options within Family Sharing that can prevent your family going crazy with your credit card.
Family Sharing: adding family and approving purchases
Once you've created a family group you can then send invitations to the other family members that you want to include in the group. This requires that each family member has their own Apple ID account. In the past, children under the age of 13 weren't allowed to create Apple IDs on their own, but iOS 8 introduced a new system that allows parents to create and control special Apple ID accounts for younger children. There is also a separate option for creating Apple ID accounts for students and older children (see here for more details on setting up Apple ID accounts for children).
These accounts for children also include an option called Ask To Buy that gives parents the ability to approve or block the purchases that their children make. When the child tries to make a purchase - including items that are free to download - they will see a message on the screen of their iOS device telling them that their parent will be informed of the purchase, and asking them if they want to change their mind before going ahead. If they do go ahead with the purchase then another message will be sent to the parent/organiser giving them the option of allowing or blocking the purchase. The Ask To Buy feature is automatically turned on for all children under the age of 13, but you can leave it turned off for older children and other adults in the group.
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