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

Apple, Inc.

iTunes account, iCloud account, Apple ID, what's with all of these accounts?

While Apple is known for making easy-to-use products, they still haven't taken all of the confusion out of using their products. And one big source of confusion for new users is Apple ID. Is it the same as the iTunes account? Is it the same as iCloud? Or is it something different?

In a nutshell, Apple ID is your iTunes account. And your iCloud account. As Apple has 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 your Apple ID. In addition to using iCloud with your 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 On Our iPad? 

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. 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.