A late-night update to the Play Store slipped out just before midnight. A close examination doesn't turn up any big visual changes or new features, but this version is begging for a teardown. I'm not going to beat around the bush, if you've read the title, you know why you're here. Yes, it's true, family sharing and gifting are on the way. No doubt about it. There's even a neat way to add credit cards if they have NFC. There's no point in teasing it out, just get to reading. If you want to jump straight to downloading the latest version, there's a link at the bottom of the post.
Families and the Family Library
There's no point in beating around the bush, this seems to be the feature everybody has been screaming about. Google is preparing to launch a feature it calls Family Library, a way for family members to buy and share content from the Play Store with those they care about.
<string name="create_a_family">Create a family</string>
<string name="my_family">My family</string>
<string name="view_family">View family members</string>
<string name="manage_family_members">Manage family members</string>
<string name="leave_family">Leave family</string>
<string name="remove_member">Remove member</string>
<string name="family_member_settings_title">Member settings</string>
<activity android:exported="true" android:label="@string/family_member_settings_title" android:name="com.google.android.finsky.activities.FamilyMemberSettingsActivity" android:theme="@style/UnicornTheme"/>
It looks like the structure is going to be fairly basic. Somebody, let's assume the head of the household, will create a family in the Play Store and add members to it. Of course, people can also leave of their own free will or be removed from a family.
There aren't any strings that make a clear distinction between the creator of the family, which members have control over family management (parents and guardians), or if there are accounts with different levels of control (kids vs parents). There are layout files that indicate that parents can set purchase restrictions for teens, and maybe we'll finally see the launch of Kid Accounts, and the Play Store might recognize them separately for management over younger children.
So far, there's nothing to indicate if there are limits to the number of family members or if there are any (largely unenforceable) expectations of relationship. It's obvious that parents and children will easily fit into this model, but there might be room for quite a few others. From the look of things, there's nothing to stop you from adding aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends, or even random strangers.
<string name="my_family_library_settings">My Family Library settings</string>
<string name="family_library_settings_title">My Family Library settings</string>
<string name="family_library_settings_description">When checked, your purchases will be added to the Family Library. You can always remove individual items later.</string>
<string name="family_library_settings_save_successful">Family Library setting saved.</string>
<string name="family_library_settings_save_failed">Family Library setting was not saved: <g id="reason">%1$s</g></string>
<string name="family_purchase_setting_save_failed">Setting was not saved: <g id="reason">%1$s</g></string>
<string name="change_family_instrument">Change family payment method</string>
<string name="switch_family_instrument">Select family payment method</string>
<activity android:label="@string/switch_family_instrument" android:name="com.google.android.finsky.billing.switchfamilyinstrument.SwitchFamilyInstrumentActivity" android:theme="@style/FinskyLightDialogWithTitleTheme"/>
The exciting part is the Family Library. It's a place where communal purchases go and each family member will have access. It's not clear if this is limited to certain types of media, like movies and books, or if any Play Store purchase qualifies for sharing. Of course, we all want to see apps and games, but it's always possible this will be restricted to products that fall into the "Entertainment" category.
A payment method can be designated for the entire family. It's not specified if people can continue to use their individual payment methods when part of a family, but it seems obvious that those will remain as options on the checkout screen. There is a setting that determines if purchases go to an individual account or if they go into the Family Library.
One string mentions that items in the library can be removed later, but doesn't specify if a purchase is moved to an individual account or if it is completely removed. Further, there's no clear evidence that we will be able to share an item from an individual account into our library, so we might have to re-purchase things for shared use.
<string name="ask_to_buy_dialog_title">Approve purchase</string>
<string name="purchase_flow_ask_to_buy_prompt"><g id="approval_required_title">%1$s</g>. <g id="approval_required_description">%2$s</g></string>
One great feature seems to be a special purchase flow for children (or possibly any selected family member) that requires a parent or guardian to approve a purchase before it goes through. This will make it easy for kids to browse around and make a request to buy an app, then wait for their parents to sign off on it. This is certainly more convenient than having to make purchases right on a device or messing around with separate accounts on the web.
Naturally, there are probably some licensing issues that may come into play with sharing content. We might not see the Family Library launch until after Google has updated all of the terms and conditions for the Play Store and notified publishers. It's worth considering that music alone was complicated, and it's only going to be more difficult with books, magazines, and movies. Apps and games may bring entirely more complicated issues. Hopefully this can be sorted out a bit faster than it was with YouTube, but given how late we are into the year, I doubt we can expect this before 2016.
Nope, we're not done with the great news, Gifting is also on the way! It's simple, straight-forward, and exactly like we've wanted for years. When you want to buy something for somebody, just hit the link to send it as a gift. You'll be prompted to fill in an email address for the recipient, your own name, and a message. Like I said, simple. In the event that the gift is rejected, you can always send it to somebody else. The strings don't indicate if you can return purchases for a refund or store credit, but that might already be covered by the standard refund system.
<string name="send_gift">Send Gift</string>
<string name="gift_email_copy_description">A copy of the gift email will be sent to <g id="account_email_address">%1$s</g>.</string>
<string name="gift_send_to_another">If the recipient does not want this gift, you can send it to someone else.</string>
<string name="to_email_hint">Enter recipient email address</string>
<string name="to_email_output">To: <g id="to_email_value">%1$s</g></string>
<string name="from_name_hint">Enter your name</string>
<string name="from_name_output">From: <g id="from_name_value">%1$s</g></string>
<string name="message_hint">Enter a message</string>
<string name="message_output">Message: <g id="message_value">%1$s</g></string>
A look at other resources doesn't reveal anything particularly special other than a character counter on the outgoing message, which probably means it will be limited in length, but it doesn't look like a limit has been specified yet.
Unlike Family Library, there shouldn't be any licensing hurdles or special terms to contend with, so I'd like to think we can count on this going live in time for the holidays.
NFC Card Support
Adding credit cards is such a drag (it's really not). You have to do all the hard work of pointing your camera at the card so OCR can read in the numbers. And then there's the possibility OCR will fail and you'll have to type everything in. Super frustrating, right? Ok, it's obviously not that bad, but who wouldn't want it to be better? If you have an NFC-enabled credit card, you'll soon have the option to add it to the Play Store by just holding your card up to the back of your phone.
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_credit_card">Tap to read your card.</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_enable_button">Turn on NFC</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_enable_title">Turn on NFC</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_error_title">"Your card info wasn't read"</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_popup_disabled_information">"Enter your credit card info with a single tap.
First turn on NFC in your settings, then tap your card to your device."</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_popup_enabled_information">Tap and hold your card to the back of your device. Your card info will be read automatically.</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_popup_title">Tap your card</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_timeout_error_message">Tap your card again or type your card number.</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_transceive_error_message">"Keep your card still while it's being read."</string>
<string name="wallet_im_nfc_unsupported_error_message">"This card isn't supported by NFC yet. Please manually type in the card number."</string>
Ok, so this is just another shortcut to make it easier to add cards, but you have to admit, it's actually pretty freakin' cool.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.
File Name: com.android.vending_5.12.9-80420900_minAPI9(nodpi).apk
Version: 5.12.9 (80420900)