iOS Family Sharing users cannot mix authentication schemes

Apple supports two styles of two-factor authentication, that they call (and distinguish as) “two-step” vs “two-factor”.  “Two-step” is their older method, though functionally they’re basically equivalent.

If you have multiple accounts on a Family Sharing arrangement, and some use “two-factor” while others use “two-step”, you’re in for a bag of hurt.

For example, any time you change the password on any of the non-master accounts, you’ll have to reauthorise all devices on that account with the master purchaser.  You’ll be prompted, when trying to download apps or purchase anything etc, with a dialog saying “Your Family Organizer, [foo], must enter the security code for their payment method”, asking for some kind of input.  There is literally nothing you can enter there that will make it work.  Not the password for any of the relevant Apple IDs, not any security codes for any credit cards, nada.

The problem is that it’s asking for a verification code that you can only create on a device which has “two-factor” authentication enabled.  Compare for example what you see with “two-factor” authentication enabled on your iDevice:

Screenshot of two-factor authentication enabled in iOS account settings

Versus what you see with “two-step”:

Screenshot of two-step authentication enabled in iOS account settings

That “Get Verification Code” “button” is what you’re looking for.  As you can see, it simply doesn’t exist with “two-step” authentication enabled.

The only solution – to allow your family members to download apps, purchase music / videos / books / etc, or pretty much do anything else on their iDevices – is to force the master account over to “two-factor” authentication.

To do this, you have to go to https://appleid.apple.com/ and turn off “two-step” authentication (which will require you to complete some stupid ‘security’ questions).  You cannot turn off “two-step” authentication from any of your actual iDevices’ Settings apps.

Then, stupidly, you can’t actually enable “two-factor” authentication from that same website.  That can only be done in the Settings app on one of your iDevices – by (in iOS 10.3 or later) going into Settings ➜ <your name at the top of the list> ➜ Password & Security.

There’s no way to enable “two-step” authentication anymore.  And not having any form of two-factor authentication enabled is a very bad idea.  So if any of your family’s accounts have “two-factor” authentication enabled, you basically have to switch to “two-factor” on all of them.

Which would be broadly fine, if Apple hadn’t made it so needlessly complicated, and the two systems so incompatible that their own software can’t figure out what’s going on.

iOS 7 breaks my heart

I had some obvious reservations about it based on what was presented publicly, but I wanted to give it some time and actually use it for a while to see what was just a mistaken gut reaction and what I could get used to.

Long story short, it’s far worse than even I thought.  I wish I could believe it’s just a bad joke, a prank, and we’ll get the real thing in a few months, but I just doubt it.  It looks deliberate.  It’s depressing.

You have to actually use it for a while to really appreciate how badly it’s broken.  It’s just hard to explain otherwise – you wouldn’t believe some of it, for a start.

There may be a careful-what-you-wish-for moral here.  I’ve long disagreed with Apple’s domineering focus on iOS over all else.  The Mac is still what gets the work done in the end, and it’s been horribly neglected.  It was a small part of why I left Apple.  Yet when I look at OS X Mavericks, aside from the dumb name it is actually a very promising release.  Both from an end-user and a developer perspective.  I’m actually looking forward to it (but, since as noted I actually need my Mac, unlike my iOS devices, I’m not putting the beta on it).

It appears that all the Mac engineers that were stolen by iOS over the last few years were put back on the Mac, and then some.  iOS 7 is superficial, crass, styleless and boring.  Mavericks isn’t a correspondingly revolutionary upgrade, but it’s at least some kind of solace.

Further iPad 3 notes

Battery life is indeed something of an issue. I can no longer just juice it for an hour or two a day, like with my iPad 2 – instead, it really needs all night to charge. And the battery life is at best the same as the iPad 2. So it doesn’t feel as untethered as previous iPads. It might be a little unpleasant when I next go away for a weekend and don’t have the chance to charge it regularly. :S

But on the other hand, despite others’ talk of wifi issues, I’ve seen major improvements in wifi behaviour. Previously when I walked between buildings at work, my iPad 2 (and iPhones) would try to cling stubbornly to the dodgy wifi signals. They’d be completely unable to do anything, but they’d keep trying and trying for the full five minute walk.

The new iPad, on the other hand, just switches to LTE and you can’t even distinguish the two. In fact for the first few days of this I didn’t even notice it was working! Even once I realised, I’ve been unable to actually catch it switching over – it’s quick and painless and there’s no disruption to existing connections. Pretty damn sweet.

So I wonder if the heuristic for when it should give up on wifi has been adjusted – perhaps it’s now more confident about falling back to LTE. Perhaps then that’s what people are seeing when they believe it’s having “issues” staying connected to wifi. I can certainly say that it has no range issues on good wifi networks – I can still pick up my home network (5GHz Airport Extreme) from inside my car some thirty or more metres away, outside line of sight and through at least one wall, just fine. That’s with the base station on half strength, to boot.

And lastly, the most marked improvement of all (well, aside from the screen, arguably) is the additional RAM. I’m yet to see a single web page refresh due to a memory shortage (or app crash, for that matter, though I’ve rarely had trouble with that anyway). And I’ve been deliberately opening the maximum number of tabs in Safari, including ones with HD videos in them and more. Previously I’d limit it to four, maybe five, and even then it’d more often than not fall over.

I was very hopeful that the doubling of RAM would make a substantial difference, but even that optimism fell short of reality. On this basis alone it’s worth the upgrade.

Another downside, though, is that it’s piqued my interest in typography, to the extent that I now have about forty fonts shortlisted for use here, for my blog, and am having a devil of a time narrowing it down to just one. I’ve not paid this much attention to fonts since.. well… pretty much as long as I can remember. I’ve not had to for so long; the last time I printed anything that wasn’t a pre-made form on a crappy laser-printer or inkjet was so long ago. But now with the iPad 3’s screen the subtle differences between like fonts are really visible.

Most disturbing of all is that Helvetica actually looks good. I’ve never liked Helvetica. Has the whole world gone topsy-turvy?!?