Thursday, May 19, 2016

Google Finally Adds Multi-device App Sharing For Families

During this year's I/O Developer conference Google made several interesting announcements surrounding the upcoming release of Android N and several other projects. There was one, maybe slightly less significant, announcement that definitely caught our attention and should catch yours as well. Google will soon be offering a Family Library option via an upcoming change to Google Play that allows up to six family members to share purchased apps on multiple devices, without having to pay any extra.

Google has begun notifying developers of the changes and has been asking them to enable the new Family Sharing option for all current apps, meaning it will work retroactively on all your current paid apps. It’s important to note that developers can indeed decide if they want to enable the feature for past purchases. The new Family Library will be similar to perks we currently see on iPhones and iPads, allowing up to six family members to enjoy the same paid app. According to Google the feature will be enabled by default from July 2nd.

To date, family members have all had to buy their own Android apps for use on each individual account and device. Google's support documentation has already been changed to reflect the new policies and currently only  covers app downloads. However, it has been reported that Family Sharing will extend to other parts of the Play Store. It is expected that we will see multi-device support being offered for both Books and Movies, but there will be restrictions in place to stop the same title being streamed on more than one device at a time.

Although it's not yet known how Android users will opt-in to Family Sharing, Google Music may provide some clues. The streaming service provides a family plan that caters for up to six users, who are invited to link their account by a "family manager." It's likely that Google will follow a similar route with Family Sharing, but include additional checks so that younger users can seek purchase approval for their own apps.

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