The iTunes App Store makes it easy to purchase an app or game on someone else’s behalf, and it’s a great way to send a thoughtful gift to an iPhone user. Google Play Store does not have such functionality, but there are still a few solutions to achieve the same goal: to present an application to the Android user.
Nothing is absolutely perfect, but I will show a few different ways that you can buy an app for someone else. You can either buy a Google Play gift card for them, send money via Gmail using Google Pay, or add them to your Google Play Family Library, then simply purchase the app from your own account. Depending on who you’re buying, one of these methods will work best for you.
Go to a section: The Family Library Method | Google Pay method | gift card method
Method 1: Add the application to the family library
The best way to buy an Android app for someone else is to add it to your Google Play Family Library. Basically, you will buy the app using your own account, then the recipient will be able to download the app as if they paid for it.
However, there is a drawback to this method. You’ll need to add the recipient to your Google Play Family Library, which is ideal for actual families, but isn’t an ideal solution if you’re gifting an app to a friend. The main issue is that your Google Play family members will have access to your payment method, which means they will be able to purchase apps and other Google Play items with your credit card in the future.
But if that works for you, start by opening the Play Store app on your Android mobile. Open the side navigation menu (the hamburger icon at the top left), scroll down and select “Account.” From there, select “Family,” then click on “Subscribe to Family Library.” If you are using a computer, you can do so from the Google website .
From there, tap Register, then tap Continue twice. You will now be asked to enter a payment method for the family account, so choose “Set up” and then type in your credit or debit card number. Remember, other people in your Google Play family will be able to use this card to make purchases from the Play Store.
Now you’ll get the chance to add your purchases of existing apps and games to your family’s library – this isn’t necessarily the app you’re ‘offering’, you can buy it later. But if you want the gift recipient to be able to access the apps you purchased in the past, tap Continue, then select Add All Eligible Purchases Now and tap Continue again.
At this point, you’ll need to add the person you’re giving an app to to your Google Play family. Choose Follow, then tap the person’s name in your contacts list to select them. You can choose up to five people to add to your Google Play family, but once you’ve selected everyone, be sure to hit Submit.
At this point, the person or people you’ve added to your Google Play family will receive an email. All they have to do is click on Accept Invitation, sign in with their Google account and follow the instructions on the next page.
Right now, you might think this is more trouble than it’s worth – but things will get a lot easier now and move on. If you want to gift an app or game to anyone in the Google Play family from now on, all you have to do is purchase the app on your own device. If you want to surprise them, hit the share button on the app’s Play Store page and send them a link. For their part, they will be able to install the app as if they had already paid for it themselves!
There are two caveats here. First, in-app purchases don’t go to Google Play Family Library. Second, not all apps qualify for Family Library, although the vast majority do. To check that a recipient can install the app you want to buy it for, open the Play Store page and tap Read More below its description. Scroll down and search for Family Library Eligible – if you see this, you can buy the app and know the recipient will be able to download it to their device for free.
The great thing about Google Play Family Library is that it works with more than just apps and games. Movies, books, music, YouTube Premium subscriptions, YouTube TV, and other no-device purchases from Google Play are eligible, so you can share nearly all of your digital purchases!
Method 2: Send Google Pay Money via Gmail
The easiest one-time way to buy an app is to give them the money to buy it. It doesn’t have the surprise or gift feel you’ll get when you buy through Family Library, but it doesn’t have the drawbacks of unqualified apps and shared payment information. This solution would be best if you want to purchase an app for a friend, cousin or nephew rather than an immediate family member.
Since every Play Store user has a Gmail address and the Play Store accepts Google Pay as a payment method, the easiest way to send some cash to an app is to attach it to a Gmail message. To do this, draft an email for the Google account they use on their phone, then hit the Attach button. Select Send Money from here, and enter your payment information when prompted if you haven’t already.
Now, just enter the amount the app costs, then add a note if you wish and click on Done. From there, send the email.
On their part, they will receive an email saying that they have received money. The transfer is done automatically, so they don’t even need to read this email, but they can click View Transaction to see details about the money you’ve sent.
Now, when they want to purchase the app, they will need to change their payment method to Google Pay. Tell them to tap “Install” on the app’s Play Store page as they normally would, but then tap the app’s name on the popup to expand the list of payment options. They can then select “Payment Methods” and choose “Google Pay Balance” to complete the transaction.
Method 3: Buy a Google Play Gift Card
If none of the above methods worked for you, the best solution would be to buy it a Google Play gift card. There are thousands of stores that sell physical Google Play gift cards, and you can even buy one online and it will work exactly the same way. The minimum is $25, however, you can’t fund a single app unless it’s really expensive.
If you purchase a gift card online, you will only have to enter their Gmail address at the time of purchase and they will receive a code at that address. If you buy a physical card, they will have to scratch the painted area on the back to reveal the code. Either way, once the recipient gets the code, they’ll need to open their Play Store app, head to the side navigation menu (the hamburger icon in the top right), select Redeem and enter the code.
Just like with the second method, when they go to purchase the app, they will have to change their payment method. Ask them to tap “Install” on the Play Store page of the paid app, then tap the app’s name at the purchase prompt. From there, they can choose Payment Methods, then select Google Play Balance to complete the transaction.