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You can now share some in-app purchases through Apple’s Family Sharing

If you ever wish 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 with families. If you buy a consumable item, such as coins in a game, you’re still the only one who can use them, but if you unlock an ad-free or pro version of an app, it may qualify for the new Family Sharing program.

Apple announced this change back in June with Big Sur, but it finally lets developers flip the switch to share subscriptions and purchases.

However, developers will have to flip that switch, as allowing Family Sharing from a subscription or purchase is a manual opt-in. At the moment, only one of my plans, the calorie tracking app FoodNoms, allows to share its plan, but other big names like writing app Ulysses have also announced that they will support the feature. However, it appears that the functionality is slowly rolling out. I asked my sister if she could access a subscription that I shared, and she couldn’t.

If you are the person buying the subscriptions in the family, you can easily check which of them have the option to share by going to Settingsand then clicking on your name. Tap from there Subscriptions.

Screenshot showing the Share new subscriptions switch

At the top of the screen, you’ll see a switch labeled Share new subscriptions. If you enable this option, your family members will automatically get access to all in-app plans that you sign up for. If you’re planning to sign up for embarrassing plans that you think could be shared with mom and dad, you may want to turn this off for now.

Below that you will see the list of your current subscriptions. Tapping on it will take you to the Edit Plan screen, where you’ll see a Family Sharing toggle if the developer has decided to allow it. Turning it on will give your family access to the plan just as if they bought it themselves!

Edit plan page screenshot on iPhone, with new Family Sharing toggle

The Sharing with family switch appears in apps that support sharing. For me it was turned off by default.

MacRumors reported that the process is different for sharing one-time in-app purchases. For example, the Pro version of Working Copy can be unlocked via an in-app payment. To access a family member, they need to go to the App Store, click their account button in the top right corner, go to Purchasedand then select the family member who purchased the unlock. They then have to download the app from that screen. Depending on how the app is set up, they may need to click the Restore Purchases button. This process is much more complicated, so I’d like to see some adjustments down the road.

If your favorite app doesn’t yet support subscription sharing, it may be worth checking the Subscription screen from time to time. There have been reports of users getting notifications when one of their plans is eligible for Family Sharing, but I haven’t received one yet. Since I am currently unable to share my budget app subscription with my wife, I will definitely check the subscription screen from time to time to see if my favorite apps are taking over the model.

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