Apple developers can now let you share free copies of your in-app purchases with your family
If you’ve ever wished you could share an in-app purchase with your family, you may be in luck. Today, Apple announced that subscriptions and one-time in-app purchases can now be shared among families. If you buy a consumable item, like coins in a game, you’ll still be the only one who can use them, but if you unlock an ad-free or pro version of an app it could be eligible for the new Family Sharing program.
Apple announced this change back in June with Big Sur, but it’s finally letting developers flip the switch to allow subscriptions and purchases to be shared.
Developers will need to flip that switch, though, as allowing Family Sharing of a subscription or purchase is a manual opt-in. At the moment, only one of my subscriptions, the calorie-tracking app FoodNoms, allows sharing its subscription, but other big names such as writing app Ulysses have also announced support for the feature. However, it does seem like the functionality is rolling out slowly. I asked my sister if she could access a subscription I had shared, and she couldn’t.
If you’re the person who buys the subscriptions in the family, It’s easy to check which of them have the option to share by going to Settings, then clicking on your name. From there, tap Subscriptions.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a switch labeled Share New Subscriptions. Setting it to on will automatically give your family members access to any eligible in-app subscriptions that you sign up for. If you’re planning on signing up for any embarrassing subscriptions that you think might get shared with mom and dad, you may want to turn this off for the time being.
Beneath that, you’ll see the list of your current subscriptions. Tapping on one will bring you to the Edit Subscription screen, where you’ll see a Share with Family switch if the developer has decided to allow it. Turning it on will give your family access to the subscription just as if they had bought it themselves!
MacRumors has reported that the process is different for sharing one-time in-app purchases. For example, Working Copy’s Pro version unlock is done through an in-app payment. For a family member to be able to access it, they’ll have to go to the App Store, click on their account button in the upper right corner, go to Purchased, and then select the family member that purchased the unlock. They’ll then have to download the app from that screen. Depending on how the app is set up, they may then need to click the Restore Purchases button. This process is way more involved, so I’d love to see some tweaks to it down the road.
If your favorite app doesn’t support subscription sharing yet, it may be worth checking back in on the Subscription screen from time to time. There are reports of users getting notifications when one of their subscriptions becomes eligible for Family Sharing, but I haven’t gotten any yet. Given that I’m currently not able to share my budgeting app subscription with my wife, I’ll certainly be checking the Subscription screen every once in a while to see if my favorite apps are adopting the model.