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My wife recently got an iPhone and, being that I'm an iPhone user already, I set up iTunes Home Sharing (under my Apple ID) so that I could share some of my purchased apps with her.

While paid apps transferred to her phone without a problem, in-app purchases that I had made under my account didn't transfer over.

Is this the correct behavior? Our phones are set up under different Apple IDs, but I was still able to transfer purchased (paid upfront) apps to her – which is completely allowed under the Terms of Use – so I assumed the same would apply to in-app purchases as well.

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Firstly, you must bear in mind that each In-App Purchase is uniquely associated with an Apple ID and that there are different In-App Purchase types:

  • Consumable - You need to purchase these items every time you want them, and you can't download them again for free.
  • Non-Consumable - You purchase these items one time, and you can transfer them to multiple devices authorized with the same iTunes Store account.
  • Non-renewing Subscriptions - You can purchase these items again after the subscription period ends.
  • Auto-Renewable Subscriptions - You can purchase these items with different renewal periods.

There are, therefore, differences in the way the availability of the product is handled.

As stated on Apple's iTunes Store: About In-App Purchases:

You can't sync or transfer non-renewing subscriptions and consumable In-App Purchase to another iOS device or Mac. You can transfer non-consumable In-App Purchases and auto-renewable subscriptions to another iOS device or Mac authorized with your iTunes Store account. For example, if you transfer a game from an iPhone to an iPod touch, only the game levels will sync, and the extra ammo and experience points won't transfer.

  • Thanks, that clears it up. The particular IAP in my question seems to be non-consumable (it's a one-time purchase that unlocks extra features in the app), but given that my wife's iPhone is set up under a different Apple ID, I guess that's why it doesn't transfer. – daGUY Jan 2 '14 at 0:20
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I do believe that is a no, if you were to buy currency or items in a game, then those would be duplicated and cause possible errors. I think there may be a way in some apps to "claim" previous app purchases but I may be wrong.

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