iOS 7: Find My iPhone only available on primary iCloud account
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Q: Is the method you describe in Using a single iCloud account for Find My iPhone now dead with iOS7? I now get a message of “Only your main account can use Bookmarks, Photo Stream, Documents & Data, Backup and Find My iPhone” under the second iCloud account I had set up on my wife’s iPhone to centrally manage the feature from one account. I mistakenly selected “turn off” during the upgrade screen. Will have to see if it sticks as legacy if I don’t select that when I update other family member’s devices.
Q: I really appreciated your article back in April, Using a single iCloud account for Find My iPhone. I was in the same situation, and your solution was the perfect way to keep track of all of our devices with one ID. We updated our iPhones to iOS 7 last night, and it looks like iOS 7 has removed this ability. Have you heard of another solution?
A: Unfortunately, you are both correct that this capability has disappeared in iOS 7, along with the ability to choose to use a secondary account for syncing the Safari Reading List and bookmarks. These features are now only available with the primary iCloud account, with the secondary one now being limited to only Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, and Notes.
While it’s not specifically clear why Apple made this change, the most likely explanation would seem to be that it’s connected in some way to the new Activation Lock feature in iOS 7, which is inherently tied to Find My iPhone. Designed to prevent a lost or stolen iOS device from being used by anybody other than the original owner, this essentially ties the device to the Apple ID used for Find My iPhone. While it’s doubtful that there are any technical limitations that would preclude Apple from making this feature work with a secondary iCloud account, it may have been a decision to simply avoid confusion by ensuring that the “owner” account corresponds to the user’s primary iCloud account.
Unfortunately, there are no workarounds other than perhaps looking to third-party apps, however these will be limited to simply locating your devices, as Apple understandably doesn’t allow third-party apps to do things like wipe your entire device.
If you’re simply looking for a way to keep track of where all of your devices are, Apple’s own Find My Friends app is probably the best alternative, and in fact doesn’t require that users share a single iCloud account at all.
Of course, you can also still setup your Find My iPhone under your individual Apple IDs and simply log out and log back in. The Find My iPhone iOS app isn’t tied to a specific Apple ID and you can easily log in and out of multiple accounts. It’s definitely less convenient, but doable.
The only other alternative would be to switch around your primary and secondary accounts, which of course would mean sharing other features such as Bookmarks, iCloud Documents & Data, Photo Stream, and Storage & Backup features. This may not be as bad as it sounds depending on how you share your data—there can be advantages to things like sharing a common Photo Stream, for instance. The big downside to doing this, however, is that if you’re backing up your devices to iCloud, you may find that the free 5GB of storage simply doesn’t cut it and may end up having to pay for upgraded storage capacity or limit what actually gets backed up.
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