Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Work Around For iOS "Family Sharing" and iTunes "Music Sharing"

One of the frustrations with Apple's new "Family Sharing" of iOS apps, is that you can't share your iTunes collection with family members. This is a pain, but there is a work around, if you are willing to use Google Play Music.
But first - how it used to work. In my family we have 3 iPhones, and before "Family Sharing" I just tied everything into my Apple ID, which meant every app AND every song in my iTunes collection was shared. However, there were some issues with my sons iTunes gift cards and one shared account, so we moved him to a "Family Sharing" account. Solved the issue of gift card balances, and we can still share most apps, BUT we can no longer share our iTunes collections (why? I don't know... probably licensing issues...)
Solution -
  • I created a "family" Gmail account, and connected it to Google Play Music.
  • Next, I downloaded the Google Play "Music Manager" to my Mac, and uploaded my music library to Google Play. Google allows you to store up to 20,000 songs in their "Play Cloud"
  • Next my son downloaded the "Google Play" app for his iPhone, connected it using our "family Gmail" address, and voila, he has access to my iTunes library again
One nice side benefit to this, Google Play music has weekly "specials" (free albums, discounted albums, etc.) that are sometimes pretty killer, and it is fairly easy now to get these and add them to my iTunes library. I'm not a huge fan of the "Google Play" apps themselves (there is no desktop app, and the iPhone app is a bit confusing), but at least we can share a music library again, and unlike Apples "iTunes Match" service which sets me back $25/year, the Google Play system is free.