Until now, Android users haven’t been able to share apps between family members — meaning each person had to buy an app to be able to use it. That’s no longer the case, thanks to the Google Play Family Library.
It functions just like it sounds — it’s a library of purchased apps and content that’s shared with up to six family members. It applies to purchasing an “app, game, movie, TV show, or book in the Play Store,” and there’s no extra fee. Still, it only works on content and apps that are “eligible,” meaning developers have to allow it. Google sent an email around in May urging them to do so.
“All purchases added to Family Library are available across Android devices, and movies, TV shows, and books can be enjoyed on iOS devices and the web,” writes Raj Iyengar, product manager at Google Play, in a blog post.
If you purchased an app after July 2, it may be eligible for Family Library — that is, if the developer has flipped the switch to allow the new service. Of course, you can choose what you want to share with your family and what you want to keep to yourself — for example, you can keep a “collection of comic books” in your personal library, but share other books you have purchased to your Family Library. You don’t even have to use this service with family members, as it should work with any six people you add to the Library.
You can designate a specific credit card to handle all purchases for Family Library, but a member can still make purchases with their personal card or a gift card whenever they choose. Don’t worry about payments made by your kids — you can enable the option to require approval for their purchases.
Family Library isn’t the first family-centric feature Google has unveiled — late last year, the company introduced the Google Play Music family plan that allows subscribers to add up to six members to share the service for $15 a month. You can sign up now on the web for that plan, which is now rolling out to Ireland, Italy, New Mexico, and New Zealand.
Related: How to use family sharing on iOS
Apple introduced Family Sharing for iOS content between six people in iOS 8, and it also began offering an Apple Music Family Membership last year. Google’s playing catch up, but it’s a welcome feature that’s long overdue.
Google Play also is adding eight new categories for people to peruse through — Art & Design, Auto & Vehicles, Beauty, Dating, Events, Food & Drink, House & Home, and Parenting. The “Transportation” category is also being renamed to “Maps & Navigation,” and the “Media & Video” category is changing to “Video Players & Editors.” These new categories will show up in around 60 days time, or toward the end of September.
Family Library for Google Play is rolling out “over the next few days,” and right off the bat it will be available in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. You’ll have to sign up in Google Play and invite your family members to get started.