Apple I.D. Madness!

Out of all online vendors, I trust Apple most of all. Apple has demonstrated that they really do care about their customers’ security, and they have never used my personal information to market to me, except for a few random product announcement emails. Apple also doesn’t sell my information to third party companies. I can use my Apple ID to access the iTunes Store, iCloud, and I can use it to register my devices. But what happens if I have more than one ID? Which one do I use?

On my first day working for Apple, I was given a free .Mac account, which later became Mobile Me, and then iCloud. When I left Apple in 2007, I kept the account. Just before I started working for Apple, I created an ID to use on Apple’s online store. Later, this ID became my ID on the iTunes Store when Apple launched the store in April 2003. This dual Apple ID scenario worked just fine for several years. I used one for purchases and one of them to access Mobile Me services. No problems. No confusion.

All that changed in late 2011. Mobile Me became iCloud, and my Apple ID that I have used for online purchases, and the iTunes Store also became an iCloud account. I can use either of these IDs to access iCloud services, but only one of them is a paid iCloud account. This one being the ID that started as a .Mac account, which later evolved into iCloud eight years later. This paid iCloud account is also the account that I use to sync contacts, notes, bookmarks, and other data between all of my devices. 5GB of storage won’t cut it for me, so I have paid for the extra storage since iCloud made its debut. It’s not too much of a hassle to have two separate Apple IDs on a Mac, but on an iOS device, it’s a headache.

Think about all of the places on the iPhone where we enter an Apple ID. There’s the App Store and iTunes Store. We also use an Apple I.D. to login and use iCloud services such as contacts, calendars, and notes synching. iCloud also provides us with the ability to track a lost iOS device. Find My Friends is another place where we would use an Apple ID. If you have two Apple IDs like I do, it can be confusing, and very annoying. Later on in this post, I’ll tell you about the most annoying aspect of an Apple ID. Changing the password.

The easiest solution to this issue is to allow us to merge the IDs into one, and maybe allow the email addresses associated with the IDs to be interchangeable. Apple sort of allows this with services like FaceTime and iMessage. These services can be setup to answer calls and messages sent to multiple email addresses as well as your iPhone phone number. Apple has so far totally ignored the dilemma caused by more than one Apple ID. For less computer savvy users this is enough to keep them from being able to enjoy all of the great features of iOS and OS X. I have mentioned this problem several times to people at AppleCare and at Apple Stores. They all acknowledge that this issue is a pain in the you know what, but they all apologize and tell me that there’s nothing that can be done. I’ll just have to choose one over the other. I’m sorry. That’s not good enough. I think Apple can do better than this. If Apple can design a beautiful MacBook Pro that is precision manufactured from a single block of extruded aluminum, and works perfectly every time I use it, they can damn well figure out a way to allow Apple IDs to be merged.

Now for the big nightmare, changing the password on an Apple ID. If I want to change the password for my Apple ID use for Apple purchases, I must change the password in iTunes, the Mac App Store on both of my Macs plus the Mac mini that belongs to my mom, on my iPhone, my iPad, and my Apple TV. Why not leverage the power of iCloud to push the password change to all devices? I recently sent in feed back at describing this tedious scenario, and I described in detail what I thought the solution should be. This is an example of where Apple has totally failed to focus on the user experience. They can design an iPhone that it simple and intuitive. They can create beautiful hardware and software that work seamlessly together, but their password change process sucks. It needs to be fixed. It’s time for Apple to allow their customers to tame their Apple IDs, and corral them into one.