Multiple IOS devices, two users, one computer
March 2, 2011 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to handle multiple IOS devices, split between two users on one computer?

My parent's are slowly entering the world of IOS devices. My dad will be starting with an iPad, and eventually getting an iPhone. Mom will most likely only have an iPhone. What's the best way to manage these devices on one computer (most likely a Mac)? Can they share apps/media between devices? Does it make more sense to have all three devices linked to one apple account (is this even possible?).

Should they have two separate user accounts on the computer? Dad won't really be using the computer much, other than for backup of his devices.
posted by backwards guitar to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If they have their own account on the Mac, the libraries in iTunes will be independent. That will allow them to have separate app catalogs, settings, etc. I don't believe there's a limit to the number of devices you can tie to an account (I manage a small fleet of devices for testing, all on the same Apple ID).

Apple frequently points out that apps and content is tied to your Apple ID, not a device. If your folks need different apps, and those need to be managed separately, have two Apple IDs and two accounts on the Mac. Otherwise, for simplicity, managing the three devices under one account would be worth it, especially if your folks don't need to insulate their purchases from each other.
posted by youknowwhatpart at 7:57 AM on March 2, 2011

There are a few ways to approach this.

1. In theory, you should be able to set up two different iOS devices on one user account. In order for Mom and Dad to get everything the way they want, they'll need to do a little extra work (see here)

2. My own feeling is that it makes more sense to have 2 user accounts on the Mac (and 2 iTunes accounts). You can sync music, apps, etc between the two accounts (see here), so the same library of apps would be available to both parents. I think this would make it a little easier for them to personalize their respective setups, but if that's not important to them, it might be more hassle than it's worth.
posted by adamrice at 8:00 AM on March 2, 2011

I would highly recommend keeping everything on one iTunes account. Each device is recognized independently when it is plugged in, and can be synched accordingly. Here's how I have it set up (two kids using out-of-service iPhones for games and movies):

1. First iPhone is set to sync music to Jack's Playlist, and syncs apps to the computer. That way I can add and remove songs to Jack's Playlist whether the iPhone is connected or not. It will also sort the music by the proper categories (Artist, Album) on the device. In the iTunes settings, you can check which apps you want synched to the device, and now you can even arrange the home screen icons within iTunes (so you don't have to manually drag them around on the phone).

2. Second iPhone is set to Spencer's Playlist, and also syncs apps. Same setup, but the settings are completely separate for this phone - all the apps are listed, and you just check which ones you want added to this phone.

The only downside to this system as I've experienced: When an app is added to the device while away from the computer, it syncs back to the computer - and by default, the other device will add that app as well, unless you explicitly uncheck it.

The huge upside is that apps can be shared across the same Apple ID account - which means I only have to pay 99 cents one time and that game can be on both kids devices.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:26 AM on March 2, 2011

Response by poster: Great answers so far, thanks.

I'm not sure auto-syncing of media is that much of an issue - we're dealing with very small libraries, so if it's manual, that's probably fine.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:45 AM on March 2, 2011

Here's what my wife and I have:

1. iPad. It's set to sync with my user account on our MacBook. My wife uses it mostly so in iTunes I told it not to sync calendars, mail, etc. That's all set up on the device for use with her Google accounts. Music, videos, and photos from my library sync to the iPad.
2. My iPhone that syncs with my user account on our MacBook. It syncs music, videos, and photos along with my mail, contacts, and calendars from my library.
3. My wife's iPhone. She syncs it to her user account on our MacBook. She has her own iTunes library that has music (but much less than I do) but no videos.

So that's a combination of different things. We both use the same Apple ID on all three devices with no trouble at all. If either of us buys an app or a song on any device it'll get synced back to the MacBook via Home Sharing. Home Sharing requires that each user be logged in at the same time with iTunes open, and dealing with that may or may not be above your parents' technology level.

You said your dad won't be using the computer much, so it's probably not necessary to do all that. I'd recommend having just one user account. They can both use the same Apple ID and any purchase made on any device will wind up in iTunes nicely. Your dad can just use all his email and stuff on the iPad/his iPhone and let the computer have your mom's email.
posted by davextreme at 9:08 AM on March 2, 2011

Nthing that your parents can share an Apple ID. My husband and I both have iPhones and we share a single account for iTunes purposes.
posted by immlass at 10:52 AM on March 2, 2011

Response by poster: It sounds like using one account might be the way to go, but does anyone know how this affects FaceTime? Will they be able to FaceTime each other? It seems to be tied to my iTunes account on my Mac, but maybe it is different on iOS devices?
posted by backwards guitar at 4:53 AM on March 3, 2011

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