Wednesday , October 18 2017

Google quietly launches “Family Groups” in conjunction with Google Play Music family subscription

family paymnet

In the wake of today’s launch of Google Play Music Family Plans, it seems Google has ushered in another new feature along with it, Google Play Family.

The new Family Groups is the hub for sharing the family music plan, however along with this sharing feature Family also brings with is shared purchasing on Google Play. In case that’s not clear, whomever you share a Family music plan with will be able to purchase apps, books, music, games and video content with your account, once again they buy, you pay.

Now before we announce the sky is falling in the service is very nuanced so we are going to try and break it down for you.

Activating Family

At present, it seems the only way to “turn on” family groups is to commence the signup process for the family music plan. After the first few steps, the Family Group is activated and you can abandon the rest of the sign-up process fro the music subscription if you don’t want the music plan but want the Family payments for some reason.

To be the “Family manager” you need to be 18 years of age or older, have a linked payment method and not already be in another family group, accept the terms and conditions and you’re the boss!

Managing family groups

Once activated you can/ have to manage the entire experience from within the Google Play app. Head to the menu > My Account.

From there you can Change your chosen family payment method, manage your family group members and review app purchases (including refunds – more on that later)

Adding a family member is a simple as clicking + invite family members and selecting them from your contacts or adding in their email address (one that is actually linked to a Google account). After that they will receive and an invitation to join the group and accept. Once they have joined you get a notification email.

To be eligible to join a family group ‘family members’ must be 13 years of age or older, hold a Google account, live in the same country as the account holder and not already be in another family group.

Once you have established you family group your basic management functions are to delete the entire family group, add new family members or manage individuals within the group. Managing individuals is currently limited to restricting or authorising IAP – more on that later – or deleting them. That’s it, nice and simple/ limited.

What can be purchased

If you’re going to have a problem with this service this is where it will get you. By default (and this can’t be changed) family members can select ‘family payment method’ when making a purchase in Google Play and have that purchase changed back to your account.

Content that can be purchased is:

  • Apps
  • Books
  • Movies
  • Games
  • TV shows
  • Magazine issues

Content that can not be purchase is:

  • Devices from the Google Store, like phones and tablets
  • Google Play balance
  • Android Pay purchases

In App Payment, IAPs, are also turned OFF by default, this is the only payment type you can completely restrict as per the screenshots above.

If an individual on YOUR family plan knows the password to their Google account, or worse yet, doesn’t have a password enabled for Playstore purchases that person WILL be able to purchase content using your chosen payment method. When a member of you Google Play Family Group does purchase something with your account you do receive an email, at which time you can go into the My account section of the Google Play app and request a refund and uninstall the content.

From my experimentation the standard “timers” apply for how long you have to easily process a refund, let us just say one of my alt account now owns some apps I’ll never use. and with a standard 15-minute timer you better be checking those emails as they come in.

Overall the I do see advantages to the Family payments and as the START of a service it’s a strong launch point. However, I would want to see more functionality around payments, for instance;

  • The option to completely remove someone’s ability to purchase using the family payment method
  • The option to set a 2-factor payment authorisation where a family member request to use my payment method and I have to allow it via one of my devices
  • The option to set an “allowance”, eg $2 per week, that a family member could spend on apps or IAP (if authorised)

As a new service that is barely launched, I think we can give Google a few months to figure out the finer points of the Family Group Product, however if you are activating family plans just be cautious to whom you give access.

How do you feel about the new Family payment method? Will it effect your decision to sing up for the family Music service?

 
Source: Google Play Family.

Duncan Jaffrey   Journalist

Duncan has been interested in technology since coding "Mary had a little Lamb" in Basic on his ZX Spectrum. A fan of all things Android, most days you'll find Duncan trawling the web for Android news or quietly editing away on Map Maker.

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13 Comments on "Google quietly launches “Family Groups” in conjunction with Google Play Music family subscription"

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Member
This seems to be a completely half-arsed attempt at replicating Apple’s family sharing system, which if reports from a couple of work colleagues are to be believed, is genuinely great. I understand that it includes features like the members of the family group being able to request to purchase something, but it must be approved by the group owner before the purchase is processed. I’m pretty sure apps only need to be purchased once. Photos can be automatically shared around the group – great for kids taking pictures. My kids are 3 and 6, so Google has about 2 years… Read more »
Lee
Valued Guest

Just tested this with my accounts after signing up to the family group and family Play Music subscription this morning.

It appears that any purchases in the family group are NOT shared between the different family accounts. I have tested this with my previous purchases with both the family manager account and the additional (existing) family member account with bought books and albums and they are not seen across the accounts. I have also just purchased an album with the member account using the family payment method, and it also does not become available on the family manager account.

Member
Darren

This kind of makes the whole thing a bit pointless then.

TwoBit Gary
Valued Guest
TwoBit Gary

Agree. Was hoping to be able to have shared purchases. I’ve bought games that then both my kids like so now I would have to buy it two more times.

Lee
Valued Guest

Done a bit more reading and one of the Android Police teardowns says that app and content sharing IS on its way, just not live yet. I think they were suggesting it’s not far off though, maybe before the end of the year.

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

I love AP, but I have seen many dormant ‘features’ in the code of Google apps never come to light, not saying it will or it won’t but I’ll keep my hopes in neutral 🙂

TwoBit Gary
Valued Guest
TwoBit Gary

Good to know. Thanks

Lee
Valued Guest

Well you still get a cheaper rate on 2+ Play Music subscriptions, and can centralize the payment methods for children (only give your kids account the family payment method that you can cancel orders from). It’s still a good system, just not quite as good as it perhaps could be.

Lee
Valued Guest

Hi Duncan, I haven’t had a chance to test this myself yet but do know if apps / books / albums etc. purchased by one family member become available to all family members, or are they limited to the purchasing account only?

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

Hi Lee, no content is not shared, you just get to pay 🙂

Member
Darren

Yes, this is what I was hoping for…
It’s not clear if we can or not though…

Waffles
Valued Guest
Waffles

This is definitely what we need. Or to transfer purchases to a shared account…

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

To be clear the accounts aren’t shared, YOUR payment method (assuming you’re the family manager) is shared with other in your family Group. Also if you sign up for the family Music service then ACCESS to that is shared, all members would still have this own playlists and uploaded music.

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