Google has finally taken the covers off its family library system for its Google Play services. In a nutshell, the system will make it easier for parents, guardians, or maybe even a group of friends, to share content purchased from the Google Play Store. They also share a single payment method, which might prove to be a headache in some cases. Of course, the feature does have the necessary controls to rein in the spending or to keep the wee ones from seeing some things they shouldn’t really be seeing just yet.
UPDATE: While the information presented in the Google Play Answers link above (and our article) is valid, the actual service itself is not yet turned on fully. It’ll be available later this year!
Here’s how the family library system works. A family can be a group of up to 6 individuals that have to be living in the same country. At least one of those should be above 18 years of age and have a valid credit card, because that one becomes the family manager. That manager has the responsibility of setting up the payment method and controlling which content can be shared. The rest of the members need to have Google Play Accounts, of course, but those can’t be work or school accounts. Plus, they can only be a member of one family at a time. Amusingly enough, they can switch to another family only once per year.
Once set up, any family member can use the family payment method to buy apps, books, movies, and whatnot. That does mean that, except for underage members and in-app purchases, family managers can’t really block a purchase, as they will only be informed after the purchase has been made. They can, of course, request a refund.
Setting up a Google Play family has to be done in the Google Play Music app on Android and only there. Not on iOS, and not on the Web. After the initial setup has been done, however, family managers can use the Web interface to perform every task. The irony of the matter is that Google Play Music is the only Play service that isn’t available in this family library. That’s because family sharing for Play Music carries a $14.99 monthly subscription fee. The Google Play family library, on the other hand, is completely free.
Again, this feature is not yet available but will be soon!