What Is an Apple ID? Is it Different from iTunes and iCloud?

What Apple ID is used for

Apple ID is both your iTunes account and the login for your iCloud account. It's is basically your one-stop-shop for everything Apple. It includes your payment and shipping information for purchasing from both the digital music, movie, and App stores and physical products from Apple.com. It holds your personal information, your passwords, and security, and it also stores all of your subscriptions and in-app purchases on the App Store.

A screenshot of the Apple ID screen

So what's all the confusion?

As Apple transitioned from a company selling music through iTunes to be played on an iPod to a company who sells smartphones and tablets, signing into these products with an "iTunes account" simply didn't make sense. So the iTunes account was renamed to Apple ID.

The Apple ID is used with all of Apple's products from the iPhone to the iPad to the Mac to Apple TV. If you have any of these devices, you have been asked to sign in or create an Apple ID to use the device. You don't need more than one Apple ID. In fact, the experience is better using the same Apple ID across all devices. You can download apps to your iPad that you purchased on your iPhone, and some apps even let you download the Apple TV version.

And while you are asked to sign in to iCloud separately, this is the same as Apple ID. In addition to using iCloud with your Mac, iPhone or iPad, you can sign into icloud.com to gain access to web versions of Pages, Number, Keynote, Notes, Find My iPhone/iPad among others.

Why Do We Have To Sign Into Both Apple ID and iCloud? 

While it may seem confusing to sign into both your Apple ID and iCloud on your iPad, it's actually a pretty cool feature. It allows you to share an iCloud account with your spouse so both can access iCloud Photo Library and other cloud features while keeping the Apple ID separate.

What Is Family Sharing?

Family Sharing is a way to link Apple IDs together into one unit. This allows parents to have greater control over what apps their kids are downloading, even allowing the child to request to download an app and having a dialog box pop up on the parent's device to approve the download. Also, many apps allow every Apple ID on the family account to download it once it has been purchased.

Do you need Family Sharing? Many families simply use the same Apple ID across all of their devices. It's easy enough to childproof an iPad to restrict app downloads among other things. And having the same Apple ID as your spouse makes sharing apps, music, movies, etc. much easier.

This can be a little confusing because you are asked to sign into your device to gain access to the App Store and iTunes and you are also asked to sign into iCloud. But while you can sign in to each separately, you use the same Apple ID account for both.

How to Change Your Apple ID Password

It is always a good idea to change your passwords on a regular basis, especially if a company you do business with was the victim of a hack. You can manage your account on Apple's Apple ID website. Simply click the Create a New Password link.

In addition to changing your password, you can also change your security question and set up two-factor authentication. In order to make any changes to your account, you will need to answer your original security questions to verify your identity.