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.
We may all lament the state of app discoverability in the Play Store at times (it still sucks you can't do advanced searching), but at least Google is trying to improve the experience. Today it's added eight new categories and renamed two others, meaning apps will be better sorted into the relevant category, which will hopefully result in users being able to find what they're looking for quicker and easier.
When it comes to mobile data, where customers almost always have a limited pool of access to work with, less is more. That's the principle behind the "delta" updates to apps that Google introduced way back in 2012, which in most cases allows the Play Store to download only the incrementally updated parts of an app rather than the entire APK. Now a new tweak to the delta update algorithm has made the updates themselves even smaller.
We occasionally see apps pulled from the Play Store for trivial (but valid) violations of the rules. Google has been more proactive about enforcing its guidelines, but it's often pointed out it could be more consistent. Case in point: there are, right now, two listings on the Play Store from a warez site called BlackMart that offers paid apps for free. One of them has been up for months and has more than 100,000 downloads. C'mon, Google.
Last year EA released a companion app for the NBA Live console game that let you stick your face on a basketball player. This year, forget the gimmicks. You get a full blown NBA Live experience to play on your touchscreen.
NBA Live for Android has been undergoing geo-limited testing for quite the while now, with millions of people having already downloaded the title. Now it's openly available on Google Play.
If you're the type of person that has to flash developer previews and sign up for every beta program available, being the first to try new apps is probably also pretty high on your list of things to do. Google has you covered. Announced last month during I/O, the Play Store is launching an "Early Access" program to give people like us a place to find apps that are mostly operational, but not quite ready for prime time. A few people found that they had early access to Early Access a few days ago, but now it looks like everybody is welcome to the club.
Congratulations, Austrian readers, you're the latest ones to get access to paid TV shows on Google Play. And they're sincere congratulations, too - it's still a pretty small club. Right now there are only eight countries that can stream TV via the Play Store (the others being the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan). Compare that to over one hundred countries that have access to Google Play Movies, as listed on the Play Store's help page. Austria itself was given access to movies almost two years ago.
Chromebooks can run Android apps from the Play Store now, and it's ridiculously cool. Well, on one Chromebook, anyway: the ASUS Chromebook Flip. As of Chrome version 53 (currently in the early bird Developer channel) it's the only device that's been updated with the functionality. That's a little odd, since Google promotes plenty of other Chromebook devices via the Google Store, including its own Google-branded Chromebook Pixel machines.