And we're officially at the point of the year in which Google makes good on its promises to get products and services out the door before the clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve. (Or, more accurately, before Mountain View effectively shuts down for a couple weeks.)
We've got shared albums in Google Photos. We've got high-res audio and multi-room support for Chromecast Audio. And we've got $14.99-a-month family plans for Google Play Music — and, as it turns out, family payment methods for apps, books and more.
And while it's Google's MO to first roll out new services to what I'll call "proper" Google accounts — what you use with your standard Gmail address, if you want — I think they missed a huge opportunity this time with that limitation. This isn't just the usual groaning of someone who can't yet use a new Google feature on a different account for a few months. Google Apps are used by families for custom domains and shared services. Yes, it's now "Google Apps for Work" — and you can learn more about them here — but they're really one of the easiest ways to set up custom domains and emails for families, and not just work organizations. My family uses it.
One kid has an email redirect that kicks over to my wife and I. (So does the dog, now that I think about it.) The other kid has seen her redirect graduate to a full account, so she can start learning about emails and the responsibility of occasionally purchasing apps. Plus — and this was the really important part for me — is that I can lock things the hell down, both in terms of content and security, then ease up as they grow. I'm not going to create a new, full Google account that doesn't have the same sort of lock-outs just to save $5 a month on music.
The larger issue, maybe, is that Google still only has this "Work" set of tools and nothing really for "Families." A matter of liability? Perhaps. And there's no reason this can't change in the near future. But the fact is this time we're not just annoyed by the absence of a new service. Talk about a first-world family problem, eh?
A few other thoughts on things:
- For more on the kids stuff, see our "Setting up a kid-friendly Android device."
- Three reviews I'm currently in the middle of writing: The Fossil Q Founder, Ring connected doorbell, and the Pixel C. No pressure, Phil.
- ICYMI, time to vote in our (yours, really) year-end awards!
- If you've yet to listen, our latest podcast with Koush, Chris Lacy and Joe from SwiftKey was so good. And Russell did a great job running it.
- Very interesting to see Honor coming to the U.S. That should add some more good stuff to the burgeoning mid-range unlocked market.
- I'm not the world's biggest U2 fan or anything (though you gotta respect the musicianship), but that concert from Paris was pretty incredible.
- Very reminiscent of what Moment Factory did with Nine Inch Nails.
- Time to get this album back in rotation.
- I don't know, Jerry. I'm running my OnHub into an 8-port switch in my living room for this very reason, and it's working just fine. (More complex networks, of course, will need something different.)
- Crazy mobile-related thing of the week: Roy Jones Jr. — pride of Pensacola, Olympic medalist, former heavyweight champ, fellow Washington High School graduate, one-time airplane seatmate and by some accounts the best pound-for-pound fighter ever — with a $2,800 Vladimir Putin iPhone case.
- Absolutely is time (past time, really) for Roy to quit fighting, though.
That's it this week. Back to work.