Apple incompetence: The iTunes Store Family Sharing debacle

“With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced Family Sharing, a way to allow multiple users in a family to share the same iTunes Store account. This way, they can easily get access to all the music, movies, TV shows and apps that anyone in the family buys,” Kirk McElhearn writes for Kirksville. “Theoretically. In practice, it’s not so smooth.”

“Yet again, Apple comes up with a good idea, but has a very poor implementation. It reminds me of iTunes Match, which still has the same problems (not matching tracks, not updating tracks and playlists, and a limited number of tracks) several years after it was introduced,” McElhearn writes. “I don’t know why Apple is so incompetent at making things like this work, but it doesn’t tempt me at all to try any new features with so many hoops to jump through.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
How to use Family Sharing in Apple’s iOS 8 – October 4, 2014
Apple TV software beta delivers iCloud Family Sharing and iCloud Photos features – June 18, 2014


    1. I am pretty sure that I signed up for iTunes Match longer than one year ago…

      According the Wikipedia, ITunes Match debuted in the U.S. On November 14, 2011. As of March 2014, ITunes Match was available in 116 countries. Perhaps your country was only added one year ago?

    2. I’ve had endless problems. I keep it turned off by default and only turn it on when needed. I’ve noticed that an iphone being restored will default to having Music Match turned on, will restore everything, including going through all the time and effort of converting my 4000+ music library to a lower bit rate and then erase my music library at the end of the sync.

      Apple is getting very sloppy.

      1. Don’t you have manually manage music and video turned on?
        And I refuse to use iTunes Match in any case, I won’t have my library of 160Gb of music reduced to 256Kb from the 320 I rip CD’s at, that’s totally unacceptable to me.
        Plus I’ve got far more music that Match will accept.

        1. You’re library isn’t reduced; you can keep all the music in your iTunes library. It’s just made available to other devices in 256 kbps AAC. If you can’t live with that, that’s understandable, but it’s more about convenience.

      1. When Apple fucks up are we just supposed to suck it up and like it?

        Apple charges a premium price for it’s products and markets them as such. That means it is ready to go out of the box and just works. That used to be the case more often than not.

        Apple these days is more worried about everything other than delivering quality to it’s customers. Function before fashion not the other way around.

        As far as being predictable, truths are hard things. Maybe you cannot wrap it around your head that Apple has shipped a more than inconsequential amount of not ready for prime time shit. That would be your problem.

        1. I tend to agree. Yosemite retains bugs never addressed in Mavericks; wifi issues have yet to be resolved; iTunes Match is so much less than its potential; current iWork suite is no where near its potential, and when is Apple going to resign OS memory management in this age of SD drives?

          1. And where there weren’t bugs Apple screwed up long-standing conventions. My dad got a new iMac for Christmas, his biggest beef is that the green zoom button now goes to full sceen. There are literally no programs he uses where this is useful, there’s no excuse for making this the default behavior and require an additional key press when clicking

            1. My Mom is having the same issue with her shiny new iMac:

              Apple needs to give the user some options so they can set the default behavior.

              My suggestions (free of charge):

              1. Maximize to content – pre Yosemite behavior.
              2. Full screen – no dock or menu bar
              3. Maximize window over desktop – dock & menu visible.

              Option 3 will appeal to former Windows and Linux users.

              If you agree send Apple a note at:


            2. Yes, that’s what I was alluding to (badly; was in a hurry) when I mentioned the extra key press (i.e. option) when clicking (the green button).

              The fact there’s no option to make this default again (i.e. without keypress) is a big thing for my dad. He was running Snow Leopard on the old iMac and could’ve jumped to Mavericks with minimal issues easing in to the UI, but redefining the zoom button default behaviour is negatively colouring the rest of his experience with Yosemite, he actually spent the time to send feedback to Apple blasting them for this decision.

              Disabling the “Double-click window title bar to minimize” makes it so double-click zooms the window instead, but this doesn’t work for all apps.

              Anyway at the end of the day the question is not what workarounds are there, but why full screen is even default now, when it’s not at all useful for the vast majority of apps.

  1. Kirkville strikes again. He says he has not even tried setting up Family Sharing, even for testing.

    I suppose it’s fine and dandy on a personal blog to say you’ve read other blogs about a feature like this, and decide it’s not for you.

    I’m more concerned about his, and his readers, generalising it to Apple incompetence across the board. This type of casual and unequivocal opinion is what fuels vicious memes that take months to die out.

    1. My article was reporting on three other articles, by different people, explaining the problems with Family Sharing. If you’d have read the article, you’d have seen that. Perhaps MDN might have made that a bit clearer.

          1. I get that you were posting other people’s issues with family sharing, but it looks like you drew your own parallel to ITunes Match in your conclusion. Your three reasons for doing so, however, seem odd.
            For example: the “limited number of tracks” is in fact every song available on the largest media store in the world. It’s not every track ever, but it is many million. Plus, any that are not already in the store get uploaded automatically.
            Further, not matching songs is not an issue I’ve seen. I have about 40 GB of music, so, not immense, but enough for a good personal sample size, I think. The only issue I had was iTunes replacing some explicit tracks with clean version of the same track. I’ve got no evidence one way or the other about the playlists not updating.

            Do you think your library might have just been less organized than most? Maybe missing artist names and stuff like that kept the experience from being better?

            1. The limited number of tracks is tbe 25,000 limit. And matching uses acoustic fingerpring, and dies not depend on the metadta with your tracks.

      1. Kirk, I did read the article. If I misconstrued you I apologise, but I used it to make a larger point, one which did not come through clearly, I’m afraid.

        Articles that report on other articles are themselves reported upon, but oft times the successive iterations acquire increasingly inflammatory headlines. Many if not most readers just scan the headlines.

        1. I agree with that. I don’t think MDN should have linked to my article specifically as a round-up article; they’d have done better linking to David Sparks’ article.

  2. “I don’t know why Apple is so incompetent at making things like this work.” Well, writing software to deal with millions of accounts with many different relationships is a lot harder than writing a blog. So I’m not surprised.

    Unlike Kirk, at least I’ve tried it. Generally works pretty well.

  3. So what your saying Sparkles is now that Apple has become so big, with millions of users, they are starting to have the same headaches Microslauth has with trying to make everything work for millions of different users. So, is this the reality? Now that Apple has become so big that it too cannot get things right when they have millions of different setups. Just a thought people. Is this how software really is. When you have millions of different configurations, no software company can get it right. Any comments on this theory?

    1. Lou, comparing a company that creates products for customers vs a company that creates products just to make cash is a little sloppy. Microsoft wanted everyone to make shit so they could sell more shit.

      Apple is trying to create a great environment. But just because a few people have an issue does not make it a debacle!! If you like Microsoft so much maybe you should go buy MS 8 before 10 comes out, or maybe even a copy of Vista. Yep going down in history as just so great. LOL

  4. Not only does iCloud suck, Apple is pushing everybody into it whether they want it or not.
    Apple is regressing because they are now driven by profits; not delivering what the end users want.
    Fire Tim Cook.

  5. “But another problem is that not all content can be shared, notably, “Apps that aren’t shareable.”

    David Chartier has pointed this out, especially as far as free apps are concerned. He points out that there are issues downloading apps that are shared, but even more so with apps that don’t allow sharing. Because this feature is an opt-in feature for developers. Frankly, if the feature doesn’t work for all the content of a given type, it’s not worth using.”

    WTF?!?! Oh no, free apps can’t be shared!!!! Download the fucking free app yourself maybe? Cuz, family sharing is really about content that has to be paid for. Kirk, even if you are simply re-reporting this, why in the world would you believe this is a valid point? It’s just incredibly stupid.

    1. YOU CAN’T download the app yourself if you aren’t the primary account holder. Once the primary has bought the app, if sharing is not allowed, the other family members are not allowed to buy it (or download the free app). It’s a big flaw. So before you call other people stupid, maybe you should consider that maybe they have had an experience that you have not had. I do know this because my healthcare provider/insurance company has a free app that for a few months was not sharable. Only ONE of us could have the app. The other received a message saying that the app was not shareable. There was no way to make the purchase.

  6. I agree that iTunes Match and Family Sharing suck in their implementation. For example, my account is the primary. If my husband wants to use iTunes Match, he can’t use my account. NO. He has to buy his own subscription and then upload his music library to iTunes in order to enable it. I can understand requiring an additional fee per user. I don’t like it, but I can understand it. But it should then be able to just access the music on my account rather than having to go through the hassle of uploading music. I moved to iTunes Match to get away from having to manage a Music from iTunes because it sucks so badly.

    Then there’s the family sharing issues. Our health insurance/hospital Kaiser has an app we use to track prescriptions, tests, appointments, etc. But they didn’t have the “family sharing” flag set. So even though it’s a free app, my husband could not download that app. I could understand needing to “purchase” it again (free or not), but it won’t even allow that option on his phone. Fortunately, Kaiser updated their app eventually. But it’s that kind of stupid software design that makes the current Apple kind of suck these days.

    I’m NOT an Apple hater. I’ve only owned Macs. I’ve owned most versions of the iPhone, a few iPads and Apple TVs and Airport/Time Capsules. But they’ve gotten really complicated lately in their software and their quality control and testing has not kept up with the added complexity.

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