New Google Family Library Feature Lets Users Share Play Purchases

The feature allows users to share video, ebooks, apps and games with up to six family members.

Google Family Library

People who purchase a movie, TV show, book or mobile app via Google Play can now share it with up to six family members without having to pay any additional fees, courtesy a new "Family Library" feature that Google announced this week.

The feature will become available starting this week in a dozen countries, including the United States, UK, France, Germany, Canada and Australia. It will let users share their Google Play purchases across any device that runs Google apps, including Android, iOS and desktop systems.

To get started, users simply sign up for the Family Library option and establish one individual as a Family Manager, or administrator, for the account. The administrator is required to enter a credit card number to cover any purchases made via Google Play. But individual members of the family group will have the ability to use their own credit cards.

For minors and younger family members, the Family Manager will have the ability to approve purchases or to block them from viewing age inappropriate content. The family administrator also has the ability to decide whether or not to share his or her Google Play purchases with others.

"With Family Library, you can choose which items you want to share and which to keep to yourself," said Raj Iyengar, a product manager at Google Play in a blog post. "Today's families have a lot of devices, and it should be easy to share content no matter where we are or what we're doing."

In addition to the new Family Library feature, Google this week also broadened access to its Google Play Music family plan. The $14.99-per-month plan lets up to six members of a family stream music on demand from Google Play on their devices. With this week's announcement the family plan is available in four additional countries—New Zealand, Mexico, Italy and Ireland. Users in these countries will be able to sign up for the plan via their Android device or by accessing Google Play on the Web.

This week's announcement puts an end to rumors about the service that have been circulating online for the past few months and brings Google on par with others like Amazon, Apple and Spotify.

Amazon's plan, which is also called Family Library, for instance, allows two adult members in a family to link their accounts and share ebooks, games, apps and audiobooks on Kindle and other Amazon-compatible devices with up to four children.

Apple's Family Sharing similarly allows up to six family members to share App Store purchases, iBooks and iTunes with each other, while the company's Apple Music family membership allows up to six family members to share music with each other.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.