How to bypass Google's Android Family Library country restriction
a.k.a How to make a fresh throwaway #Google account for a bit of increased privacy on a new phone, whilst still getting access to all the paid apps from another account.
So after patiently waiting and fumbling around with Postmord I finally was able to pick up my new smartphone today. I won't say what brand it is, but I will say that it cost me 8,250 crowns and it's currently the best flagship on the market.
I made a decision before I got this phone that I would resolve to (wherever possible) use as many #FOSS apps in place of apps that aren't. For those less tech savvy here, FOSS means simply “Free and Open Source Software”.
In addition to the above pledge I also decided I would make a new Google account. Yes I know I just posted a blog stating that I would be moving away from Google wherever possible. Well that's a little 'extreme' for me at the moment and I'm not quite ready to go full tin-foil hat and throw away services like Google Maps away even though I do quite like Openstreetmaps.
The problem is this. I have an old Google account, and by old I mean ancient – merged over from the @googlemail days. I'm sure Google has quite a nice list of all of the things I've ever done on that account despite me having location and search history etc. turned off for years. One day I'll get around to asking them to send me all of my data under the #GDPR. One thing I cannot change sadly are purchases linked to this account, specifically app purchases.
At current I have paid for exactly 78 apps in the 8~9 something years I've had an #Android device (can proudly say I've never owned an #iShit device). Of these 78 apps, 74 of them were a waste of money and more than 75% of those 74 probably have better FOSS alternatives. A few months ago I downloaded an app that told me what I paid for all of those apps and I was both disgusted and relieved to find that it was roughly 1450 crowns. Not as much as I thought but also 1450 more than I would have liked, especially seeing as at least 30 of those apps have bastard developers and wound up as a 'bait-and-switch' or ultimately went free after taking my money. I'll admit I got a bit carried away with the earlier sales Google had, but thankfully about 35 of those apps were only 1kr each.
After scrolling through my old phone and counting the apps I absolutely could not live without, that is: Poweramp, Nova Launcher Prime and Bouncer. I can't count Titanium Backup because I actually won't root my new device and it's not worth using that app without root. I had to think about whether or not I was willing to pay (and thus add a payment method to my new account) for the apps a second time. I decided against this because:
- I already paid for these apps
- Google actually made one smart and very fair choice of adding the 'Family Library' so up to 6 people can all use the same paid apps
- Adding more personally identifiable information to a new account would be a pretty redundant thing to do and I might as well just use the old account
That meant adding my new account to the same family library. It also means I cannot sadly delete my old Google account unless I am willing to buy those apps again.
Obviously I'll lose a bit of privacy for this. This is Google we're talking about and even though I'd like to distance myself from the nice record that Google has for my old account which I have used for everything and probably has years of Youtube history saved on it. It's just not a feasible thing to do and I had to rationalise between paying again or 'associating' my new account with my old in the 'family library'.
Easier said than done.
My fresh new Google account was made in a different country from my super old account. Apparently that's not ok and all members of the same *cough, family cough* must be registered in the same country. I got right to the end of the process adding my new account to the family and got the “It seems your country is different from the head of the family's”. Real smooth Google.
We can get around that though, thankfully Google allows you to change your country once per 365 days right from the Play Store. Provided of course that you are actually physically in a different country. Yikes. Take a trip back to where I registered my old account? I think not. Besides the country you have your Play Store set to only matters in the case of availability of 'some' apps.
Reason number 342356345347 as to why and where VPN comes in handy. I installed Wireguard as the first app on my new smartphone and used my old phone to make a quick QR code for instant access to a profile in the country I needed. It took a bit of messing about (had to get the details for my VPN account) but sure enough a quick force close of the Google Play store and it gave me the option to change my country as soon as my VPN was connected.
Except that it wanted a payment method as a final step to the process. Ah fuck! After all that I'm still going to need to add a payment method and it has to be one tied to bank or Paypal account registered in that other country.
Well cutting a long story short. I popped on over to a CC generator and made a fake BIN and after trying half a dozen and ensuring that I was generating BINs for the country I needed, I got one that worked. 30 seconds later I was confirmed and the Play Store reloaded. 60 more seconds later I had added my new account to my 'Family'. Then all I needed to do was delete the bogus payment information. HAH! In your face Google!
Now I have all 78 apps that require a linked Play Store license to download, ready and available to download on my new device. A good few hours of messing about just to save a few crowns and snob Google, all at the cost of a bit of privacy (like you get any with Google anyway). Oh well, you can't have everything I guess.