The days of going to your local video rental store to pick out a movie or two to watch are long gone. While I still have some nostalgia over going with my grandfather and walking around the nearby Blockbuster, the convenience of streaming is undeniable. With a seemingly endless number of providers from which to rent or buy a digital movie, one of the common fallback options is Google’s own streaming video store.
Whether you use any of the excellent Android phones on the market or are rocking the latest iPhone, the options for where you get your movies are open. But Google has a trick up its sleeve to get users to pick its service: Google Opinion Rewards.
If you are unfamiliar with this feature — you should go download it now — it is an app from Google that will periodically notify you that you have a survey available. The length, frequency, and subject of the surveys vary, but they generally will be based on places you visit digitally and in the real world. Then when you answer one of these surveys, you will earn Google Play credit to spend on things from Google’s digital stores.
The Opinion Rewards app will keep track of your credit, and when you are ready to buy an app, book, or movie, you can use that credit instead of money from your bank account. This is why I say that the service is the proverbial trick up Google’s sleeve because it is a great way to get users to use its video streaming storefront over other options. What you buy is automatically available on Android TV and Google TV devices, along with all of your other Google-powered devices.
Ok, now for the switch. While that all may seem great, one of the issues that can arise is when you use one of the Google TV or Android TV products in a shared setting — like with your family. The issue is that if I am the primary account on my NVIDIA Shield TV 4K and I rent or buy a movie from Google. It shows up in my library and is ready to stream, but if my wife gets a movie whether by Google Opinion Reward credits or a normal purchase, it’s a no-go for the TV.
This issue has been a thorn in my wife’s and my sides for years. Mainly because I tend to spend my Google credit as soon as I get it, which is annoying on its own, and she will forget she has it. That is, until we want to sit down and watch a movie. Then we go through the same round of complaining about how dumb it is that she can’t rent the movie and have it show in the library on our TV — even when she is signed into her account on the device too.
Though we have the same gripe session each time this situation arises, we end up casting the movie to the TV and watching it that way. But that shouldn’t be the requirement. When my old 2017 NVIDIA Shield TV finally died on me, I picked up the Chromecast with Google TV and naively assumed that our long-time frustrations surrounding my wife renting the movie and it not showing up would be solved — wrong.
In 2022, one might think that issues like this would be few and far between, but sadly that isn’t the case. Google has been revamping its TV platform with a new interface and slowly transitioning from Android TV to Google TV. Along with that, since 2020, it has also been making changes to the video streaming storefront by getting rid of Play Movies and TV and movie it all over to the Google TV app. Yes, I’m just as confused as many of you that Google has both a platform and an app/store that uses the same Google TV name.
It makes no sense if I can have both my and my wife’s Google account signed into our streaming device that we can’t also have the option to allow both libraries to be accessible. Heck, even if my wife could share her Google Opinion Rewards credit with me, I could get the movie through my account — but no.
Not being able to see both of our libraries from another service like Fandango is understandable. But not our Google TV and movie libraries when both accounts are signed into a platform owned by Google. For the sake of privacy and security, all information from accounts shouldn’t automatically merge or be available, but a question or toggle to turn on what bits users would like to make accessible should be.
While Google continues to revamp its streaming hardware, platforms, and video streaming services, it might want to look into family sharing options. Google already has the Family Sharing library that allows specific apps to be available for up to six people in your inner circle. So, solving the shared library issue on a device that multiple users signed into should also be doable.