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  1. #1

    Unhappy Family Sharing and iCloud storage/Drive are broken!

    If there is an afterlife, I have a bad feeling that if Steve Jobs is there, and somehow reads this, it will start him spinning, possibly in not so silent rage. You see, one of the apocryphal stories of Steve concerns the launch of MobileMe, and its accompanying storage service, iDrive. Steve (like many Apple customers, apparently) didn't know what MobileMe was supposed to do and -- when told what it was supposed to do -- went into a bit of a rage about it not actually doing what it was supposed to do.

    iCloud was supposedly the answer to whatever Steve's question was. Actually, I didn't have too many problems with MobileMe, and actually used iDrive as a very effective cloud storage service well before the likes of DropBox, Google Drive, Oxygen Cloud, SkyDrive etc managed to get their respective acts together. So, I was rather sad when iDrive was dropped, and I've shifted to DropBox for essentially the same services.

    More recently, however, iCloud became a little more insidious, so I've been using that for iLife document storage, along with storage for a number of other apps that play best when their data is stored on iCloud. So, until iOS 8 and OSX 10.10, iCloud became a very convenient way of storing documents within a family, as well as ensuring all my family members had access to the same music, apps, photos etc. To do this, we simply shared my Apple ID for iCloud. It was really, really simple. I had control over my daughter's spending on apps because, basically, I controlled the iTunes Store password.

    That's no longer the case with iOS 8 and Yosemite; each family user must have their own Apple ID, and the sharing of apps, music and photos is enabled through Family Sharing. We each have our own iCloud storage; my daughter and my wife have the default 5Gb, and I still have the 500Gb we were sharing before. Except we can't "share" my iCloud storage any more! Some common files we used to use in Numbers and Pages are no longer files that each of us could edit and update -- now, we email the updated files to each other, creating obvious version control issues. Guess we'll take those to DropBox! The same goes for the Day One holiday journal we take delight in keeping up to date on holiday trips. Please don't let me be the one who always has to keep that updated -- my photo captions are boring! And the very good Car Logbook app, that my wife and I use religiously, and our accountant constantly praises. DropBox again, methinks!

    So, as you can gather, not happy with the effect on our family of Family Sharing.

    But the biggest PITA has come with iCloud Drive, or iCloud storage -- call it what you will. Chances are, if each member of your family has at least an iPhone and an iPad, the default 5Gb of iCloud storage will be insufficient for the online back-ups. And there's no way you can re-allocate the 500Gb that, say, the family organiser has for the others to store back-ups on. So, after tearing your hair out for a while, you'll conclude there's only one thing to do: buy them some more storage. And this is where Steve would seethe: logically, you'd think that the additional iCloud storage could be purchased by each family member, approved by the family organisers, and charged against the iTunes account of the family organiser (as is the case for other purchasers under Family Sharing.

    You'd be wrong!

    Additional iCloud storage must be purchased against the Apple ID for the device user, NOT the family organiser. That means I have to provide my credit card details against my daughter's Apple ID. And, once I do that, she has carte blanche (no, she is trustworthy, but you see how Family Sharing just broke).

    Now, I know you are thinking there's a workaround to this, and it involves me, as the family organiser, simply buying an iTunes Gift Card using my iTunes account, giving it to my daughter so that she can buy the storage. Such a simple solution, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK!! (Sorry for shouting, but I'm sure you understand) You see, there's no option to use an iTunes Gift Card when a user wants to pay for additional storage; you must use a credit card. So that's iCloud storage broken.

    Yes, I have had quite some animated conversations with Apple Support regarding this; indeed, it is supposedly "being escalated", but I've heard nothing for two days now. This one clearly isn't on their support scripts, so they tend to get into an endless loop of asking me to enter my credit card details against my daughter's Apple ID, and I keep telling them why I shouldn't need to do that.

    As Steve Jobs famously asked the MobileMe dev team "what is it supposed to do?", I now ask the Family Sharing/iCloud storage team the same question, and follow it up with "well, why doesn't it do it?!"

  2. #2

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    Not sure about all of the things you just mentioned in your post, but there are a few things which are incorrect.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimboC View Post
    Now, I know you are thinking there's a workaround to this, and it involves me, as the family organiser, simply buying an iTunes Gift Card using my iTunes account, giving it to my daughter so that she can buy the storage. Such a simple solution, BUT IT DOESN'T WORK!! (Sorry for shouting, but I'm sure you understand) You see, there's no option to use an iTunes Gift Card when a user wants to pay for additional storage; you must use a credit card. So that's iCloud storage broken.
    1. You can purchase additional storage using an iTunes Gift Card. I used an iTunes gift card to upgrade my 5GB storage to the 20GB storage plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimboC View Post
    each family user must have their own Apple ID, and the sharing of apps, music and photos is enabled through Family Sharing.
    2. If you don't like the family sharing method of sharing apps etc, you don't have to use it. I still use the old method of my wife and daughter sharing my iTunes account for purchases whilst they keep their own Apple ID for their backups and email. You are NOT forced to use Family Sharing for the purchase and sharing of apps. music and photos.

    Hope that helps.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  3. #3

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    Re 1., yes, you can do that for your storage, but not for that of another family member. No, I don't know why, either...there's just not opportunity for them to enter a Gift Card as the means of payment. If you can show me (and Apple, who acknowledge the problem), that'd be great!

    Re 2., of course I don't have to use it, but if you want to make use of other iOS 8 / Yosemite features, such as Continuity and receiving calls and messages including SMS on your other devices, you DO need to move on from the old method, which I've used for years.

  4. #4

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    Like changa we have used the old method of shared iTunes account has separate iCloud accounts for a long long time.

    My iPhone and Mac both use my own iCloud account (in preferences on the Mac and on the IOS device) but a shared iTunes account for the Mac App store and the iOS store. I am happily using continuity for calls on the Mac and iPad as well as SMS from the iPhone to the other devices.

    The only down side (of course) is that we have to share the password. When it's my wife and I it's not an issue, but the kids are still young enough that they have to ask us to install stuff for them... might have to look into the whole family thing a bit more as they get a little older.

    Sorry I can't help with your issue, but I can at least confirm that the old skool work around still allows for continuity.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimboC View Post
    Re 1., yes, you can do that for your storage, but not for that of another family member. No, I don't know why, either...there's just not opportunity for them to enter a Gift Card as the means of payment. If you can show me (and Apple, who acknowledge the problem), that'd be great!

    Re 2., of course I don't have to use it, but if you want to make use of other iOS 8 / Yosemite features, such as Continuity and receiving calls and messages including SMS on your other devices, you DO need to move on from the old method, which I've used for years.
    1. Buy an iTunes gift card, apply the gift card to your family member account you want to upgrade, then just purchase your iCloud storage upgrade. That's what I did.

    2. I have my accounts set up so that my wife and daughter have their own iCloud account and we share my iTunes account for purchases. My wife can still use continuity, and she still gets SMS messages and calls on her iPad and her other devices, and we can still share applications.

    You are able to have a separate account for iCloud and a separate account for iTunes purchases on your iOS devices.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  6. #6

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    I understand the old method; that's what I used previously, and I'm no novice at these things.

    changa, the screenshot below shows (if I could post it!) what happens when I attempt to apply an iTunes Gift card; there is no option to use a gift card when upgrading iCloud storage unless the same Apple ID is used for iTunes purchases, which is not the case for my daughter; she shares (under family sharing) my iTunes account, so when I apply the gift card, it goes to my iTunes account and not her iCloud storage purchase

    Gah! Photosharing disabled on this forum!!
    But the only payment options are Amex, Visa, or Mastercard

  7. #7

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    Log into your daughters iCloud/iTunes account and apply the gift card to HER account (NOT YOUR account). Your daughter will now have the gift card balance attached to her iCloud/iTunes account.

    You then simply upgrade your storage. The storage payment will come off the iTunes credit available on her account. I did this for my daughter and my wife (as well as myself), no magic needed. It's just applying an iTunes gift card credit to the account you want to upgrade storage for.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  8. #8

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    That's exactly what I did do, and have the screenshot to demonstrate (but can't post). No gift card option. This has been confirmed by Apple, by the way.

  9. #9

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    Well that is how I did it for my wife and daughter (and it works) and it is how you apply gift cards to an iTunes/iCloud account.

    Here are the steps.

    1. Log out of iTunes
    2. Log back into iTunes using your daughter's iTunes/iCloud account
    3. Click the drop down button (next to their name in iTunes) and select Redeem - it will probably ask you to reconfirm the password
    4. Apply the Gift Card (you can either key in the code or use the iSight camera).
    5. Once you have done this, the balance of the gift card should now appear towards the top right hand corner. This will be credit attached to your daughters iTunes/iCloud account (not your account)
    6. On you daughters iDevice (iPad/iPhone) go to Settings then iCloud
    7. Click Storage, and then Change Storage Plan. You will then have an option to choose an iCloud plan.
    8. Select whatever plan you wish - The monthly charge for the plan will then come off your daughters iTunes credit.

    If you want to make double sure that your iTunes account is not charged you can log out of your iTunes account on her iDevice.

    That's it.

    Hope it works for you. It really does work.

    EDIT: I also found the article which states that acceptable payment methods for iCloud includes iTunes credit iCloud storage upgrade pricing

    It states "Accepted payment methods for iCloud storage upgrades include credit cards, debit cards, and iTunes Store credit. If you don't have enough iTunes store credit to complete your upgrade, you'll be charged the remaining amount. Apple Store gift cards aren't accepted as payment for upgrading iCloud storage"
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  10. #10

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    Yep, those are the steps I followed. With one important difference. For this to work, my daughter's iCloud account must be verified, with a credit card associated to it. If you do not do that, it is not possible to redeem a Gift Card on the account. If I had done that, then the use of a Gift Card is actually superfluous.

  11. #11

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    I also found a support article which explains how Family Sharing purchases work. Family purchases and payments

    the key part says

    Making purchases
    After you set up your family, any time a family member initiates a new purchase it will be billed directly to your account unless that family member has gift or store credit. First, their store credit will be used to pay the partial or total bill. The remainder will bill to the family organizer's card. As the family organizer, any receipts generated by the transaction will be sent to you. Learn more about how iTunes Store purchases are billed.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimboC View Post
    Yep, those are the steps I followed. With one important difference. For this to work, my daughter's iCloud account must be verified, with a credit card associated to it. If you do not do that, it is not possible to redeem a Gift Card on the account. If I had done that, then the use of a Gift Card is actually superfluous.
    I don't know what to tell you, but my daughter does not have a credit card attached to her account and it worked for me. You can establish iTunes accounts without credit cards (only gift cards). My US iTunes account does not have a credit card attached to it. I use iTunes gift cards.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  13. #13

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    Here is an Apple support article explaining how to setup iTunes accounts without a credit card. Create an iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store account without a credit card or other payment method
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  14. #14

    Default Family Sharing and iCloud storage/Drive are broken!

    As I mentioned, Apple acknowledges the problem. Apparently (and I may have this wrong) it is because it treats iCloud and iTunes accounts quite separately. I tried all the combinations, but I can't get the Gift Card to register against either her iCloud or iTunes account unless there is also a credit card registered against the account.

    My point is that it really shouldn't be this difficult. The Family Purchases support article was the first one raised with me by Apple Support, but there's simply no way at the moment of having iCloud storage upgrade debited against my (family organiser) account, as is the case if she seeks purchases such as an app, music, or a book, which I authorize.

  15. #15

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    BTW, my iTunes account is Australian, established many years ago.

  16. #16

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    I really do want to help you, because it does work.

    Firstly I agree that you cannot purchase iCloud storage for another family member under Family Sharing. Each individual person needs to purchase iCloud storage under their own iCloud account. This is why you need to apply the iTunes Gift Card to your daughters iTunes/iCloud account (not your own account).

    You can create iTunes/iCloud accounts without a credit card attached (as per the link above Create an iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store account without a credit card or other payment method). Apple probably has millions of iTunes/iCloud accounts without credit cards attached as many people do not have credit cards (particularly children). I have given my nephews and nieces iTunes Gift Cards as presents for years (as they don't have credit cards). You don't need a credit card attached to your iTunes account in order to redeem a gift card.

    Once you apply the iTunes credit to your daughters account, she can purchase iCloud storage under her own account (not under the Family Sharing system). As per the other article I linked to which explains how iTunes purchases are billed (How iTunes Store purchases are billed) purchases will use gift or store credit first.In your case you would have applied the iTunes Gift Card to your daughters account, so she would be able to purchase the iCloud storage plan of her choice.

    I really do want this to work for you, as this is how I got my wife and daughter's iCloud storage purchased. I am not sure I can provide any more assistance.

    Maybe someone else can explain it better than me. Alternatively just go to an Apple Store, tell them you have an iTunes gift card which you want to credit to your daughter iTunes account and get them to do it for you. It's really quite simple.
    Last edited by changa; 30th October 2014 at 09:53 PM.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by changa View Post
    Making purchasesAfter you set up your family, any time a family member initiates a new purchase it will be billed directly to your account unless that family member has gift or store credit. First, their store credit will be used to pay the partial or total bill. The remainder will bill to the family organizer's card.

    A little off track, but I like the idea that the kids can have and use their own iTunes credit 1st then the parent pay for any extras (while still approving everything). The question I have is can the parent pay for things using their own iTunes credit or is the only option to revert to a card payment?
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Hawk View Post
    A little off track, but I like the idea that the kids can have and use their own iTunes credit 1st then the parent pay for any extras (while still approving everything). The question I have is can the parent pay for things using their own iTunes credit or is the only option to revert to a card payment?
    From what I heard on the Mac Geek Gab podcast (with Dave Hamilton and John Braun), Family Sharing purchases use the organisers credit card (and not their iTunes credit). This was the reason why Dave Hamilton decided to turn off Family Sharing and go back to the ld way of sharing apps (with the shared user account) as he had iTunes credit he wanted to use first.
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

  19. #19

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    Changa, many thanks for your thoughtful and helpful responses. I guess the purpose of my original was to point out two things:

    The first, that Family Sharing should do what it says on the label. Most parents looking at this feature for the first time will say "Great, now we can consolidate our purchases of books, music, apps etc, and, as a parent, I can exercise a little control over my children's demands, and be aware of what they've installed on their iDevices, and it can be all covered by my iTunes account. Now, up until the point of the iCloud storage issue, that works. And then it doesn't. Simple as that. If you think you can explain the Gift Card workaround to a parent who has newly acquired iDevices, there's a job for you at Apple! By any reasonable measure, this is a fail on Apple's part, which they acknowledge.

    The second is the inability to create a Shared Family Folder on iCloud Drive. In my experience, all other cloud storage services enable this, and it makes no sense.

    Don't worry, I'm not heartless; of course I have used my credit card so my daughter can purchase additional storage. But it should not have to be that way.

  20. #20

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    Glad you have managed to sort out your problem, but the Gift Card process is not a 'workaround' it is how Gift Cards have always worked and has not changed as a result of the introduction of Family Sharing.

    I think that for most people Family Sharing has made iTunes purchases and the sharing of purchases easier (not harder).
    iPhone 6 128GB Space Grey, iPad Air 2 -128GB Space Grey, 11" Macbook Air, 27" Core i5 iMac, Mac Mini, Airport Extreme

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