After nearly a year of rumors, teardowns, a vague announcement, and a false start, Google Play's Family Library is finally going live today. It will begin rolling out over the next few days to users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Other countries will surely join the list in time, but those will be the first. Family Library will allow up to six family members to share purchased content with each other without paying for additional copies.
Each of the major social networks has evolved to place emphasis on something that they have excelled beyond all others. Twitter is the king of what's current. Facebook is all about planning events and staying in touch with family and friends. And despite a constant narrative about its impending doom, Google+ has become one of the best places for actual content creators to share their work. Photographers, writers, chefs, and other adventurous, interesting, and creative people have come together to share their passions.
Yesterday, Google announced a new program called Google+ Create that will fuel this trend by featuring great collections and the people that put them together.
Amazon has finally (finally!) brought its Prime Instant Video service to Android devices with an Instant Video app available through its own app store.
The news comes as part of an update to version 5.0 of Amazon's own app in the Play Store, which sees a broader content shift - the new Amazon app allows users to access Amazon's entire digital catalog, meaning that - besides instant video content - users can shop for (and install) apps from Amazon's app store. This ostensibly makes the Amazon App Store app obsolete, though the old app will still need to hang around on your device to verify apps that use Amazon's optional DRM system.
When we first wrote about Quantum Paper (the internal name for the material in Material Design), we noted that Google was anticipating a series of updates to its own apps between the introduction and completion of the new design direction - updates which would bring the apps a bit closer to the new design style in a progressive fashion, so that the apps wouldn't undergo fundamental transformations overnight.
Looking back, it is now obvious that Google+ was our first taste of material design, followed by Google's editing apps like docs and sheets.
In the same vein, we've received information indicating that Google's makeover of the Play Store is well under way.
After its update to 5.0 on iOS about a week ago, Pocket has been upgraded for Android as well. I'm a long-time user of Pocket, and while my use case is probably different from the typical user's (there are probably only about 10 items in my list at any given time), it's clear to me that Pocket is always trying to find new ways to make simple save-and-read functionality better and more convenient. To that end, Pocket's new update offers users a new "Highlights" selection, which will pull and organize the best stories from your list, placing them in categories like "quick reads," or sorting by source, trending status, or subject matter (like "#photography").
Attention, people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland: you can now buy television shows from Google Play, both on the web and via your Android devices. Google threw the switch on the content earlier today, making the UK the first country to get access to TV shows on Google Play outside the United States. Content appears to be a decent mix of US and UK shows at the moment, though it's probably a bit anemic when compared to the US store due to good old-fashioned licensing issues.
UK residents can now watch wonderful content like Breaking Bad, Homeland, The Walking Dead, and...
I know many of you have been longing for a way to filter the apps you've paid for into one convenient list. Neither the web nor the app Play Store currently allow this, despite years of outcry. Things are looking up, however, as I believe Google is finally paying attention.
You see, there is a little-known official channel with current top suggestions for Play Store-related features called Suggest a feature for Google Play. You can suggest your own ideas at the bottom, but it also contains a curated list of current top suggestions you can vote for by clicking Suggest it (I think it's a little ambiguous to have a Suggest it button in a list of existing suggestions - it should probably be called Vote for it).
There's a little over a week left until Game of Thrones season 3 arrives on HBO and Google wants to make sure you're entirely prepared. The trailer below depicts the machinations of a plot to overthrow enemies, mercilessly and without hesitation. We won't spoil it for you, so take a look at it and see if you can guess who's using the Play Store to take over Westeros (if not, the end will spoil it for you plenty).
While, unfortunately, the show itself is not on the Play Store, Google's quick to point out that you can get all kinds of peripheral or related content, including kick-ass soundtracks, ambitious literature, fantasy games, and movies about dragons.
Google released an update to the news reader it hasn't abandoned today, adding a bunch of support for audio-centric features. Playlists are now available for editions that contain audio content, and users will be able to play, pause, and jump forward or backward in the playlist. There are even status bar controls added for when audio is playing, so you don't have to sit staring at a blank playback page while listening.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
* Audio playlist for editions with audio * Audio media bar in app for stop, start, next, previous * Story scanner audio icons for launching Audio directly * Status bar audio controls when Currents audio is playing * Syncing post read state between devices * Bug fixes
It sounds a lot like Google is gearing up to make Currents more than just a guided content scraper.
This should be fun! Here's a really early peak at Google's latest content push: it's called "Google Play News," and these bits of News come in "Issues" and "Subscriptions," so we're guessing Google's getting into the newspaper business. "Play News" will be a new, "colored" Play Store section to go along with Apps, Music, Books, Magazines, Movies, and Devices.
To read Google Play News, you must have a supported Android phone or tablet