Until last year, Android users were unable to share apps between family members — meaning each person had to buy an app to be able to use it. That was no longer was the case when Google Play Family Library debuted in July 2016.
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. Now, the feature is finally rolling out to more countries, meaning that millions more will be able to take advantage of it.
When Family Library launched, it was available in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. Now, Google is now pushing the feature to South Africa, Chile, Belgium, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, and Ukraine.
“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.
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 — in late 2015, 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.
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 is long overdue.
Update: Google Play Family Library is rolling out to nine more countries.
- How to track your kid’s digital footprint with Google Family Link
- The best music apps for iOS and Android
- The best CarPlay apps
- The best Android apps (January 2021)
- Where to watch free movies online