Using Family Share Calendar in iOS 8

Enabling Family Share in iOS 8 turns on a shared calendar function that provides busy families with a way to stay organized and on schedule. Everybody in the family can add events to one calendar while keeping personal calendar events private. Technically a Family Share calendar is no different that setting up a shared calendar in iCloud. iOS 8 simply makes it easier to setup and use.

I can set up family reminders that will appear on everyone’s devices at the exact time or place I choose. So when whether it’s my turn to take the kids to Tae Kwon Do, pick up the pizza for take out night, or plan a trip to Connecticut to visit family, everyone’s in on the plan. Here’s how to use it.


When you create a new calendar entry (tap the + from the upper right hand corner), from the entry page, scroll down and tap Calendar. If Family Share is enabled you’ll see a selection item called Family under the iCloud section. Tap to select that item and complete your calendar entry as you normally do.

That’s all there it to it. The entry will magically show up on the calendars of each person you added to Family Share. The calendar entry works just like any other calendar entry with event notifications, directions, notes , etc.


How to enable Family Share for the iTunes Store

I know the drill. I’m right in the middle of watching a live show of my favorite sport and my son or daughter comes runnign into the room, stands in front of the TV and starts talking. Loudly.

Kid: “Dad, dad, dad! I want this app. It’s only 99¢”
Me: “I’m watching my show. I’ll download it later.”
Kid: “Do it now. Please, please!”
Me: “Argh! You’re blocking the TV.”
Kid: “It’ll take just a few seconds. Come on, please!”
Me: “Sigh! Hand me the iPad.”

Some variant of that scenario plays out in my house at least once a week. My kids and I are app junkies. My kids are mostly into games and music apps. I don’t mind buying the apps. My kids save their pocket-money and pay me for each download. But, they it seems they always want to get an app when I’m in the middle of doing something else. My wife doesn’t always remember the iTunes Apple ID and password so the duty of app purchasing always falls to me.

In some families the parents give the kids the iTunes account username and password just to stop being annoyed. There are consequences to doing that.

Why not just have my wife create and user her own iTunes account? Because then we would either have duplicate purchases — I want the app but she also wants the app etc. — and no way to reconcile them. So we dealt with having one app account shared between us and I get to be the buyer. There was no solution to this family problem until now.

With the release of iOS 8 Apple introduced a feature called “Family Share”.

Family Sharing is a new way to bring harmony to your family’s digital life. Up to six people in your family can share purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store without sharing accounts. Pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. Easily share photos, a family calendar, and more to help keep everyone connected.

If that isn’t clear enough let me make it so. Your kids, from their iPads and iPhones, can send you request to buy music, movies, apps, and books. You get a notification on your iPhone (or iPad) and approve (or deny). Quickly. Without too much interruption of what you are doing. All without having to share an Apple ID or passwords. Sweet!

Enabling Family Share

It takes just a few minutes to set up Family Share. You’ll need the Apple ID that’s authorized to make iTunes purchases and username of the Apple ID (iCloud) of the members of the family.


From you iPad or iPhone (“iOS device”) launch the Settings app and tap the iCloud icon. Enter the credentials for the Apple ID used to make purchases. Once logged in tap the section that says “Family”. Make sure to enable the “Share my Purchases” check box.


Tap the “Add family member ..” to add the first Apple ID. After adding the Apple ID, enable the “Ask to Buy” check box. Return to the previous screen and keep adding Apple ID for each member of your family; up to six.


After each Appel ID is added you are given the option to send an invite or notify the person immediately. That person will get a pop up notification on his or her Apple device.



Finding people and things

Family Share isn’t just for sharing app purchases though. Family Sharing lets you share your location with your family members and shows you where they are, too. I like the idea that I can track my kids where about. My kids love their iPhone and carry them everywhere. For me and my wife we have peace of mind in knowing where our kids are when they are not home. This feature is also a great way to find a misplaced iPhone.

With the Find My iPhone app, family members can use their devices to find one that’s lost and have it play a sound (even if the ringer is turned off).

Sharing Calendars

Family Share also provides busy families with a way to stay organized and on schedule. Everybody in the family can add events to one calendar. I can set up up family reminders that will appear on everyone’s devices at the exact time or place I choose. So when whether it’s my turn to take the kids to Tae Kwon Do, pick up the pizza for take out night, or just a trip to the cousins, everyone’s in the know.

Sharing Family Memories

Bhavna’s family loves to hang out. Since we all live in the same town, we see them quite a bit. Birthdays, anniversaries, or just for the heck of it. We take a lot of photos. Everyone has an iPhone. Quite often I capture something of one of the little ones that my Bhavana wants to keep on her phone. Instead of mailing it to her I now can create a shared family album for these moments.

Family Sharing makes collecting and sharing family memories easier and more fun. It automatically sets up a shared family album where you can contribute photos, videos, and comments. And everything stays up to date on everyone’s devices. So you’re all a tap away from the latest vacation shots, birthday highlights, and family pranks.

To learn more about Family Share read Apple’s online guide.

How to update your iPhone/iPad to the latest iOS version

Any day now, Apple will release iOS 8. I am sure Apple’s update servers will be slammed and for many of us the download will take forever. I’ve owned iOS devices since the first iPad was released in April 2010. Over the years I’ve learned that there are certain things I can do to make updating my iOS devices easier.


The first thing I do before applying any iOS update is to back up my current device. My first backup is to iCloud. If you don’t have an iCloud account, create one. It’s free and a requirement in my home. We have eight iOS devices in our home (one iPad and one iPhone per person) and each one is backed up to an iCloud account. I explained it to my family this way. If you have important photos and videos on your device and that device is lost, stolen or damaged all those photos are gone. Toast. Never existed. Upgrading to iOS 8 is free.



Storage & Backup

Storage & Backup

Back Up Now

Back Up Now

Once you have your iCloud account setup, launch the Settings app. Tap the iCloud icon and then Storage & Backup. From that screen, enable iCloud Backup and then tap Back Up Now. Your iOS device needs to be plugged in and connected to a wi-fi network. The iPhone will not backup over a cellular network.

Once my iCloud backup is complete, I repeat the process to create another backup. Yes, I’m a bit paranoid. But I want to make sure that I have a good useable back up of my iOS device.

One I have completed the second iCloud backup of my device I connect the device to my computer and launch iTunes. I’m a Mac but the process should be the same for Windows. From iTunes, select the device and click to view the Info screen. Click the “Back Up Now” button to start the back up.

Backup to iTunes

Just like I did for the iCloud backup, I do this twice. When I’m all done, I will have 4 recent backups of my iOS device; two in iCloud and two in iTunes on my local machine. Now I can go ahead and update to the new OS.


In my experience, updating one iOS device is easier if done directly over a stable wi-fi connection. From the Settings app, tap General, then Software Update. The update will show up and you can tap to start the installation process. NOTE: You iOS device will need to be plugged in and on wi-fi to download the update.

However, I have eight devices to update and on the first day of a new iOS release, Apple’s update servers are usually flooded with requests. For me it’s more efficient to use iTunes to download the update once from Apple’s servers and then do the updates on each device independently while connected to iTunes and my Mac. Instead of eight devices fighting for network bandwidth on my home network while also fighting for a place in the download queue at Apple’s servers, I download once and deploy multiple times. This also give me the advantage of seeing if update caused any issues. One device hosed is bad, eight devices hosed is a disaster.

To download an update a device using iTunes the device must be plugged into a computer running iTunes. Once your device is connected to your computer, launch iTunes, select the device icon, and then click the info tab. If there is an update for your device, iTunes will indicate that and prompt you to download and install the update. I usually download the update first and then I use that one download to apply it to each device.

All done

Good luck. Hopefully the iOS update will be out in a few hours and we’ll all get to enjoy it’s new features.