With the launch of iCloud today, Apple is bringing a lot of great new features to every iDevice owner. However, for those of you who have not only multiple devices, but also share your iTunes account with family members, it can become quite a headache, here is how to deal with it:
First of all, the most important thing to realize about iOS 5, is that while it offers you many services that require an Apple ID, like Game Center, FaceTime, iCloud, iTunes, iMessage and so on, all of these do not need to be sharing the same account. An Apple ID is an email address you registered with Apple, it can be from Hotmail, Gmail, or whatever you want. Indeed, you can use one Apple ID with iMessage, and another one with iCloud.
Or, you can have an iCloud account, and a separate iTunes account that have nothing in common. It’s not optimal, as you’ll need to have multiple email addresses, and have to remember additional credentials, but other than that it’s not complicated at all.
To pull this off, just create a new iCloud account when you first setup your device. Alternatively, you can activate iCloud and sign up directly in the Settings app under iCloud once you have iOS 5. This will be your iCloud account, that will sync and backup all your data including your contacts and so on. You can enter it on all your devices and they’ll be kept in sync.
Then, go to the App Store, scroll to the bottom, and in case you’re still logged into your iCloud account, select it, and log out. Then, you can log in into a different account, with a different email address and password (or you can sign up for one) just for your apps, music and movies. This will be the account that you can share with your partner or kids; iOS 5 is perfectly happy letting you use both, and having them separate.
Alternatively, you can control which account you’re signed into from the iTunes tab of the settings app:
As you can see, in my situation, I have an iCloud account on my personal email @nder.vg, and then I signed up for the App Store and I’m buying apps using my @appadvice.com email. I could share my @appadvice.com App Store account with my better half, and she would be able to access all the apps I own. However, since I signed up for iCloud with my @nder.vg account separately, her contacts and mine won’t sync and she can have her own personal iCloud account.
Actually, I have a different password on each account so she can’t access my iCloud data even if she wants to. All she can access are my apps.
There are some limitations, so that you can’t share your accounts with friends. First of all, you can only share your account with up to 10 different devices, and five computers. Also, once you start downloading media content from an account (in my case @appadvice.com), you can only use that account with that device. That means that now that I’m using my @appadvice.com account, I can’t enter a random stranger’s iTunes Store account credentials into my device and download his apps (the only way around this is to merge them, but then he would lose his account, more on that in a different post). This block lasts 90 days, so you can switch every now and then. Also, it doesn’t yet affect apps, only music and video. Still, don’t share your account if you can avoid it.
I hope this clarifies the situation, if not, tell us in the comments!
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