Google Play newest feature: The Family Library
As you may or may not know, Google released a new feature a few months ago that is known as the Google Play Family Library. This release takes place two years after Apple released their version of Family Sharing,which is nearly the same thing. This feature allows sharing of movies, television shows, apps, and books among up to six Google accounts. It will work on all Android and Chrome devices as well as iPhones and iPads. The service is free and is an addition feature to their existing Google Play Music Family Plan, which does require a monthly payment.
How does the service work?
Well, the first thing you need to do is sign up. You do this by accessing the Play Store app on your device. From there tap the top left to get to Menu, choose Account Family, and then tap Sign up for Family Library. It’s a breeze from there as your device walks you through the entire process. But what happens after you sign up?
How to start a group?
You’ll want to add people to your group, so pick out up to six people you’d like to share with. If you invite the group, you take on the role of family manager. This means you can add and remove people from the group, and will get emails when people join the group. To get the group started bring up your Play Store app again and go to Menu, Account, Family, Manage family members, and finally Invite family member. You can invite via phone number or email, which makes it easy to do!
What if I want to join a group?
If you’d prefer to join a group, rather than starting one on your own, that’s possible as well. When someone invites you to a group you’ll get an email or a text with the invitation, depending on whether you were added by phone number or email address. All you have to do is read the instructions in the invitation to join up and start sharing with your family.
How are apps paid for in the family plan?
Good question, in order to allow you and family to buy things for the group on Google Play, you will have to have a payment method active. Users who are registered as being between 13-17 will require approval before using the payment methods, but everyone else can use it as needed. You can apply any card you’d like and use it as the payment method. We suggest adding one that you can keep a watchful eye on, just in case someone decides to marathon ten seasons of Grey’s Anatomy without telling you they’re buying it first!
That said, other members can use their own payment methods if they choose to, and you can toggle on or off sharing for each piece of content that you do buy and place on your own device.
What’s next for me?
If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to make a decision. Do you want all purchases automatically added to the group? By going into the Play menu and hitting Account, Family, Family library settings you will discover options for each type of content. In each, you can then choose whether all newly purchased items are added. If you prefer simplicity, allow them all to be added. If you don’t want everything you own available to all, choose not to add automatically. It’ll be a bit more work to ensure you do add things you’d like there, but you get more privacy.
At this point, you’re pretty much done with the setting up, and you can take a step back, knowing things are working as intended. That said, there are some things about the service that you should know about before jumping in with both feet. Some items are going to be available for sharing and others aren’t. Before you guy something intended for the library, only to find out you can’t share it, we’ll explain the ins and outs of the system.
This seems to be the biggest stickler than it comes to sharing content. Google seems to be allowing publishers to make the decision on whether a book can be shared or not. You’ll have to keep an eye out on that for every book you purchase if you intend to share it with the others in the group. That said, free samples, rented books, and personal document uploads cannot be shared this way.
Movies & Television Shows
Any previous purchases of either of these types of content will be sharable. So everything you had before joining a Family Library will be available to watch for anyone, assuming it’s share to the library. As far as purchases go in the future, that’s a little trickier. If someone pays for a film or show with the family payment method, a gift card, or a promo card – that will be available to everyone in the group. However, if someone uses their own card that isn’t associated with the library, that will not be possible to share with others.
Apps & Games
As far as apps and games go, if you bought them before the beginning of July 2016, the developer gets to choose whether they are shareable or not. However, all items bought after that time are eligible for sharing with the six people in your family. This does not include, however, purchases you make inside the app. For instance, if someone spends $20 on perks in Candy Crush, that will only apply to them and their game.
There you have it. You should be ready to go on creating or joining a Family Library and choosing the best content to curate it with. It’s honestly very simple to do, and once you get past the actual creation and joining, you won’t have to worry about it much. So join a group, have fun, share your favorite apps and movies, and enjoy Google making it easier to enjoy things you love with your friends and family!