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To date my wife and I share one Apple ID for all Apple purchases and devices. We currently own a first and third generation iPod, iPhone 4, and will own an iPad 2 in the morning. Thus far having the one account has not been an issue, but with more Apple purchases to follow at what point does it make sense to have more than one Apple ID? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having one or multiple accounts? If we each had an iPhone would multiple Apple IDs be required? What's the relation to iCloud?

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5 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There is no limit and having more is not necessarily better. Having all your devices registered under one Apple ID has the benefit of having all your purchases pushed to them without having to manage multiple accounts. So your wife can enjoy an app on her iPhone 4 just the same as you can enjoy the same app on your iPad 2, without needing to purchase the app a second time (once for reach device), or constantly logging in and out of various Apple IDs to install and update.

I find it is always better to pool your purchases to one account and register your devices under that single account. Having multiple Apple IDs requires that one micro-manage each account (iTunes will only check for updates for the current Apple ID), which can be bothersome at the best of times and a nightmare at the worst of times.

One advantage of having separate Apple IDs, however, is that each account belongs to its respective owner and can be registered to their own payment methods. But if you share your finances, that is of little value to you.

iCloud is bound to its respective Apple ID, so if you have just the one, all the features of iCloud would permeate through any device registered to that account. That means if you downloaded an app on your iPad 2, it would appear on your wife's iPhone 4. You would also share documents, pictures, music, etc. (anything supported by iCloud and expressly enabled by you) across all your devices as well—email as well. iCloud would essentially unify them and their content.

Multiple Apple IDs are not required. You may also find this article on managing multiple devices (although somewhat dated when iCloud launches).

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Very detailed answer! One question is it possible to have multiple devices of the same type associated with a single account? I know that at one time their was a restriction against doing that. –  ahsteele Oct 9 '11 at 4:41
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Absolutely. Devices are registered by their unique serial numbers. So you could have 4 iPhones under one Apple ID if you wish. –  cksum Oct 9 '11 at 5:43
    
excellent then I'm happy we've stuck w/ the one Apple ID for all these years. –  ahsteele Oct 9 '11 at 5:45
    
I suppose there could be some desire for privacy from each other. Say you buy her a birthday present, but she sees it on the Apple account before the big day... –  GEdgar Oct 9 '11 at 13:48
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@GEdgar sure. But the store is digital. It doesn't run out of stock or close. Moreover buying something literally takes 2 seconds (unless you have an obscenely long password), so I would say that it wouldn't really be an issue. You could make the purchase in the time it takes for her to pick up her iPad ;) –  cksum Oct 9 '11 at 16:50
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FaceTime can't be used to call each other on the same iTunes account, for this reason alone you must have a separate apple ID to make use of this great tool.

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Doesn't FaceTime also work with Gmail addresses? That would provide separate identification while using the same Apple ID. I cannot prove this however. –  gentmatt Dec 28 '11 at 7:48
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@Matt You can use any email address as an Apple ID, but the address has to be an Apple ID in order to use it with FaceTime. However, you can use multiple Apple IDs for various parts of iOS (i.e. one for iCloud, another for FaceTime, another for the App Store, etc) –  Kyle Cronin Dec 28 '11 at 15:23
    
I use one Apple ID but I can FaceTime between devices by adding additional e-mail addresses and "calling" those addresses. See apple.stackexchange.com/questions/45666/… This is particularly easy with Gmail which allows you to use multiple addresses to ref. the same account: evernotefolios.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/… –  David Kolar Jun 24 '13 at 13:46
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Check out this excellent FAQ from Apple on Apple IDs and iCloud: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4895

Of particular interest are the sections:

  • Using the same Apple ID for Store purchases and iCloud (recommended)
  • Using one Apple ID for iCloud and a different Apple ID for Store Purchases
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I actually think multiple ids are a good idea. I too assumed that if I bought an app from one account the other account would not be able to use the app. But if you sync the app from the same iTunes installation (Windows7 for me). The paid app works on all the iOS devices. Facetime & Messages are also a great reason to have multiple accounts.

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You can use one Apple ID for FaceTime across multiple devices that have distinct Apple ID for app purchase. I can contact my son's iPod Touch with my iPhone using the same ID, all I did was change what email I can contact him on because it's not a phone (gmail). Works perfect for us with no confusion.

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Not a good standalone answer as it doesn't relate to the original question. IMHO this should have been a comment to the Lee's answer instead. –  XQYZ Jan 15 '12 at 12:32
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protected by bmike Feb 24 '12 at 5:21

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