On iOS, the App Store prominently displays the message “Supports: Family Sharing” on our app pages. While that statement is technically accurate it implies that the app can be used by multiple family members, which isn’t true with the current implementation of Family Sharing. We’ve let Apple know that we’d really like to remove that text from our app pages, but haven’t yet been able to do so.
In-app purchases are excluded from Family Sharing
Our apps in the iOS and Mac App Stores are a free download, where most functionality is unlocked by making an in-app purchase. Technically our free downloads can be shared using Family Sharing. (This is why that text appears on our pages.) But the free download itself has almost no functionality without activating one of the in-app purchases, and in-app purchases can’t be shared through Family Sharing.
(Restore Purchase is used to restore in-app purchases, but it only restores from the purchase history of the Apple ID that’s currently signed in, so it doesn’t work with Family Sharing.)
We’ve also asked Apple for a way to allow our customers to use Family Sharing to share in-app purchases in our apps. (If you’d like to see that too, you can let Apple know. It may help to reference our RADAR #29148267.)
Why we use in-app purchases
Prior to making our app downloads free, customers had to purchase our apps before they could be downloaded from the App Store. This meant customers weren’t able to try an app before paying for it. We heard from a lot of customers who wanted to be able to try our apps first. We agreed and wanted to provide the best possible App Store experience.
Family Sharing isn’t the only reason you might have trouble unlocking an app. If you’re having trouble and this article doesn’t seem applicable to you, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help!