Feb 21, 2012

Find My...Family [Remix]

A little over a year ago, I explained how to find your family members using the Find My iPhone app, assuming that you are using the same iTunes account for each phone. With Find My iPhone, you can see where each iPhone or iPod Touch for that iTunes account is on a Google Map.  While this is great for keeping up with kids or avoiding that "where are you now" call when your spouse is driving (a safety risk), it had its drawbacks.

The first drawback was one of inconvenience: It required you to sign in nearly every time you wanted to use the Find My iPhone app. The second drawback came with iOS 5: It was tied to your iCloud account instead of your iTunes App Store account.
Note: Your iTunes App Store account and your iCloud account can be different in iOS 5. This is important if your family wants to share apps and music but not your documents and photo stream. App Advice has a great write-up called How to Use iCloud in a Family Setting - Share Apps - But Not Contacts that you should read.
Since you won't want to share your iCloud account, you cannot use Find My iPhone for this anymore. However, Apple has provided Find My Friends in iOS 5 as a way to find your family (or your friends, as you would guess). Each person who can be found has to agree to it, but you can set it up once and use it to find family members. There are even parental controls for the kids, to lock down their friends list so as to keep them from letting others find them and to keep them from removing you.

If you use Find My iPhone, I suggest that you use a passcode on your iPhone so that others can't use your iPhone to discover where family members are.

Three more quick things:

  1. If you have older iPhones or iPod Touches in the family that can't be upgraded to iOS 5, you can still use the Find My iPhone method I described earlier.
  2. A disadvantage of having a child under 13 with an iPhone or iPod Touch that has iOS 5 is that Apple prevents children under 13 from having their own iCloud account. You either have to share your iCloud account, which is not optimal for reasons mentioned earlier, or you have to be content without being able to find their phone.
  3. Using a different iCloud account on your kid's device means you can't take advantage of the primary intent of Find My iPhone, which is actually finding the iPhone. You can see where it is on a map with Find My Friends, but Find My Friends doesn't allow you to make it beep so that you can find it if it's "somewhere around here".

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