”It Just Works” (For Kids)

The trials and tribulations of shared content and kids

How often have you heard someone recant the moment when their child first saw an iPad. I remember my own story, with my 4 year old son. I placed a new iPad on the coffee table in the living room at night, and when morning came and he bounded out, he went straight for it. He had no idea what it was or that it existed, but he unlocked it and started to use it. That is the high water mark of great user experience. The iPhone had trained him well enough that he could then use something different, yet similar. I pictured giving him another tablet and laughed at how he could never even get close to using it.

That high mark seems to be cracking with Apple though as you can see from tales such as:

“Fast forward to today, 2014. Zoom in to me. I’m typing this on a Macbook Pro. In my pocket is the iPhone 6. Three metres away sits a Mac Mini. On the surface, nothing has changed. The problem is, it feels like everything has changed. In short while Apple’s hardware continues to impress me, their software has gone downhill at a rapid pace. iPhoto is an unusable mess with the volume of photos I now have. Aperture has been discontinued and is badly lagging behind in terms of both performance and features. iTunes takes forever to launch, and is bloated mess of way too many features and functions. iCloud is still a mess that I wouldn’t dream of storing my important data in. iOS 7 crashed so often that I became intimately familiar with the Apple logo that appeared every time it did. iOS 8 fixed the crashing, but introduced thousands of little paper cut like bugs. I used to install updates from Apple the second they came out, now I wait a few days to see if they are actually any good.”

The effort that went into iOS 8 is astounding, and the quality is high, but you can see how it can be argued that it has dipped.

You Kids Can’t Use Family Sharing

Back to children as a measure. One of the great features in iOS 8 is Family Sharing. Managing and sharing the media (apps, photos, (my) videos, movies, tv shows) has been a thorn in my side. There was never a clean way to do this across the family, so I was jazzed to hear about the feature in theory.

Then I went to set it up, giving each of the kids their accounts (forced to use icloud.com vs. their actual email domains now, huh). I then go to the “Videos” app on my sons iPad (ASIDE: interesting that it is called “Videos” even though it doesn’t have your videos?) and see nothing. Wait a minute….. let’s take a step back and think about what I would love to see / be able to do:

  • As the parent, I would love to be able to go through the family collection and grant access to the various pieces (or maybe flip it and give access to all, but black list certain items…. which would work better for me since most of the content is for the kids ☺
  • As the parent, I don’t want to worry about what is in “my” account vs. my wife’s etc. The family has content, and the family owners can grant and revoke access. If one of my sons wants to buy “Minecraft Widgety Cool App”, my wife and I get the “cool?” and if we agree it starts downloading for him. Ideally I would then be able to say “oh and cool for the other kids too”.

Instead, I look to my 5 year old and his experience for watching a show on his iPad goes from:

BEFORE: Go to “Videos”, find show I want, tap to play

AFTER: Get to iTunes (via Videos / Store or directly), tap on the top left ‘button’ which is now just words in iOS 8 “My Purchases”, and choose “Dion” from the drop down. Find the content, try to download it, and get back to Videos to watch it.

Errrrrrrr, that don’t just work, instead it just feels like a LOT of work.

The concept of family sharing is SO needed, but the implementation drives me up the wall.

I blame that one Apple Maps guy

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