The Diablog™

iCloud configuration for shared Apple Store content

If you are not the only Apple consumer in the house, READ THIS BEFORE CONFIGURING iCloud.

Apple launched iCloud and the iPhone 4s this week. As we've come to expect, the faithful lined up to get the latest iPhone before they were gone. Millions of people received their new iPhone today and expected it to "just work". For some I suppose it did. But others of us may lead more complicated lives than the folks talking to Siri in the Apple promo videos. I offer some tips here for life with multiples of iDevices and users. 

I am not the only one living in my house that uses Apple gear. For years we've used a single AppleID to purchase music, movies, TV shows, and apps that we've synced with our iPhones, iPods and iPads from our Mac Mini in the media center. This DOES just work and it's awesome. My wife and daughter download new apps to their devices and after the occasional sync with the Mini, the apps are available on every device. Same for music as well, naturally.

iCloud changed everything. Apple doesn't make this quite clear, but when configuring devices for iOS 5, if you use the same AppleID for all services on a device, iCloud (default configuration) will merge the data, including contacts and calendars. If all devices share the same email address for Facetime one device cannot call another. This is likely not the best outcome and is easily avoided. iCloud, Facetime, and (Apple) Store can each be configured with different AppleIDs. Here is my recommendation:

  • create a unique AppleID for each user of Apple devices
  • configure (settings) each user's device(s) to use this unique Apple ID For iCloud and Facetime
  • configure (settings) Store to use the common AppleID you've always used to purchase Apple content

This setup allows you to continue to share downloaded content among devices, keep a unique set of personal content (contacts and calendars) sync'd with iCloud for each user and to have unique identities for Facetime. Apple could have explained this, but it would have complicated their marketing message. Extracting the simple from the complex is Apple's forte. This time they oversimplified leaving many with questions about how to best enjoy the new offerings. To make matters worse, it's not immediately clear when you examine iCloud, Facetime, and Store options in the Settings App that you can make unique selections for each service, so even those looking for the right setup may have missed it. For many users who blindly moved forward with the recommended defaults, the result is a mess to clean up.

Each day, Dialogs Professional Services helps business reach their customers through increasingly complex digital communications channels. We help them understand the options available. We tailor solutions to meet each customer's unique needs. For some it starts with a simple website, for most it eventually becomes a comprehensive marketing effort involving content that feeds websites, mobile apps, multiple social networking services, and organic search. We've been doing this long enough to make it easy to understand even if it is quite complex to execute.  

Let us help you define your digital communication needs with no more complexity than is required. Call usOversimplification can lead to a mess.