Have online services finally figured out the idea of a family?

Holly and I use a lot of online services – video watching, e-book reading, gaming, music, apps… And all of these work off of individual accounts. When we met, we already had accounts with a lot of the big names – Apple, Amazon, things like that. As we started to grow collections like Kindle books and iPhone apps, we were doing so in parallel accounts.

That meant for us to share Kindle books, we were having to use each other’s Kindles, for Apps we’ve had to buy a number of duplicates. For music, we’d have to burn a CD to share, which we often forgot to do so it was hard to share music. For downloading movies or TV shows, we always had to figure out which account or computer to put it on.

However, of late this problem seems to be going away. I’m not sure how long all of these options have been a thing, but once we found one, we went hunting for others and were not disappointed.

I think it started with Apple, who were advertising their new Family accounts earlier this year. This let us finally connect our Apple accounts, giving us access to each others’ Apps (useful for, for instance, the Board Game apps we had only bought on one account each) and music (great for all those albums we had never shared). It also meant that who had which TV shows or movies didn’t matter, and we could make those decisions more on whose computer has more HD space.

Then we went and looked at Amazon, and found that it finally also has family accounts! Which is great, and was just in time – we could both have easy access to the baby-related Kindle books we’ve gotten, and things like that. It also removes a lot of the issue with us making one of our two accounts into a Prime account. Sadly, we have not found any way to really run a joint Wish List yet, so there’s room for improvement on Amazon yet!

There’s family Gold now on X-Box, though we dropped Gold there just because we haven’t had a ton of gaming time there (and have been on the PS3 more). When we added NetFlix back recently the account can be set up with different viewers – which was bad when it came to setting up the data settings, as Holly mentioned, and which is good with the Kids option which we’ll eventually make use of.

All in all, it feels like the Internet finally has some idea of taking these individual user accounts, and linking them within a household. Which is the sort of thing that users have been awkwardly trying to do for ages. It’s going to happen, so it’s good that they’ve made ways to try and make it easy.

How about you – any services like this that you’ve found, or any you wish would add a family option? Let us know in the comments below!

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7 responses to “Have online services finally figured out the idea of a family?

  1. Oh, and Steam! We can share those games at home as well. Very nice.

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  2. Apple still needs to work on their family services where children are concerned. Their permission system is buggy! I love it though for linking purchases with my mum, and my mum has loved it too, considering I have over 1000 songs!
    I don’t bother with xbox family as there are just the two of us, so we don’t buy gold family, we buy two separate accounts because it’s cheaper. I don’t really like how Xbox is set up for children, they definitely need to work on that. I needed to enter a credit card to set up her account even though I was adding her as a family member. It wouldn’t accept my paypal account which I have on mine, I needed a credit card! It was a bit of a nightmare setting up her account! Not to mention that the settings for children include no online games, but most games on Xbox One are classed as online! She needs online just to play split screen with me!

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    • Oh wow. Definitely sounds like they have a long way to go. Haven’t run into all those Xbox settings yet – thanks for the heads up! And as for Apple, they took a long time to even create some kind of blocking mechanism so that kids weren’t just buying stuff on their parents’ phones! Sad to hear they haven’t done it well yet.

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      • Yeah, I already had warned my daughter about buying stuff because I didn’t want a huge debt, but after it got released, we both ended up relying on the permission thing and took it for granted! Whoops! Lesson learned!
        I caught it very quickly though I always check my emails from Apple when you buy stuff and it was only a 99p thing, I was more concerned about appropriateness. For instance, I don’t let her play games that are free but pay to play, so the permission system was good for that. 🙂

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        • Oh man, the pay to play games can get so expensive so fast. Better to buy a quality $10 game and play the heck out of that!
          Thanks for some planning food for thought – now I wonder what will change next and make us have to figure something else out!

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          • I wonder what life will be like when my 10 year old is my age, stuff that was around when I was her age are obsolete now! We were joking about games and I said, “I bet there wont be any loading screens when you’re my age”, and that’s the kind of step forward I can get on board with! 😀
            Yes, it’s much better to buy a full game. I’m a responsible mum gamer, “You have to earn your armour, you can’t just buy it!”. Haha.

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          • I am completely behind this no load screens future! I’ve liked some games that have done interesting or interactive things during load screens, at least… But even things like wired controllers (saw that going around on Facebook…)

            Some of the sneaky psychological things they do in the in-game purchases games… Limited time items and such. Where you don’t have enough time to get things without spending money… It’s much safer to just buy a game! We even often buy the season passes with games that have them, to just agree to get the DLC over time as they come out! Then we tend to avoid the non-season pass DLC, which are often cosmetic or, as you point out, not earned!

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