Apple unveiled their new operating system, iOS 8. This update is due for release in the fall for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch. There are many new features but a few in particular that parents will want to learn about. At the top of that list is the answer to many of our prayers: the ability to remove yourself from a group iMessage! And the new family sharing feature has great potential for those with multiple Apple devices in the home.
iMessage changes – Leave a Conversation and Do Not Disturb
The way iMessage works now, if you part of a group message, there is no way to remove yourself. This is a common problem and thus over 40,000 visitors to my article “The problem with Group iMessages”. I’m so happy that I’ll be able to update that article come September!
From what I’ve learned, you’ll be able to simply remove yourself from a group conversation at any time. You’ll also have the ability to “mute” a conversation by using Do Not Disturb for a particular message thread. For example, in group iMessages involving 10 or more pre-teens, you can silence the conversation at bedtime and catch up again the next day.
Here’s what it will look like: (from the Apple web site)
image from Apple.com – Leave a group conversation in iMessage
Location sharing in iMessage
With good comes…well maybe not bad, but concerning. Notice in the picture above the “Send my current location” and “Share my location”? Apple is making it easy to share your location with someone in a message. Depending on your child’s age, this might be a no-no. I’m assuming that you’ll be able to prevent this by way of restrictions, but that will remain to be seen. Maybe not too much of a problem as long as your child is only messaging with real, true friends. (Have you viewed their contacts list lately?)
Family Sharing with iOS 8
I’m really excited about this new feature of iOS 8. I think this will cure a lot of digital family headaches, especially for those with younger children. Instead of sharing an Apple ID, you can share purchased songs, movies and books with up to six family members. Family sharing also allows for shared calendars and reminders and a shared family photo stream. Looks like kids on the family “share” will also have to ask permission to purchase apps (as they will all use the same credit card on the parent account). And if you need to keep tabs on where your kids are, this feature will be built in with “Find my Friends” and “Find my iPhone”.
Family Sharing invitation (image from Apple)
Looks like family sharing has great potential, but as with most things the devil is in the details. For example, what if you’d like to only share a family calendar, but would prefer NOT to share the apps you purchase with your kids? I’m hoping to see a “pick and choose” method to family sharing. And, not all devices will be eligible to update to iOS 8 – will those older iPads still be able to participate in Family Sharing? We shall see and I’ll be sure to write an update once iOS 8 is released in the fall. I suspect that for many, the ability to remove yourself from a group iMessage will be worth the wait!
More about iOS 8 from around the web
- iOS 8 Preview – Apple
- Apple iOS 8 Features – CNN
- 8 nifty new iPhone & iPad features coming in iOS 8 – Here’s the Thing blog