Google revealed this week that it is revamping the way card purchases, card management and passes work on Android devices. This is all a bit complicated, but generally seems like an improvement.
Google Pay is already available on Android and allows managing cards for digital purchases and card payment in stores, sending and receiving money from friends and family members, and store digital versions of certain types of cards and passes (e.g. bus passes, retail store rewards cards, etc.) More recently, Google launched a brand new Pay app, which puts more emphasis on organizing spend data and store rewards programs.
Google is changing how payments work on Android again, and the exact experience will vary by country. In the US and Singapore, tap-to-pay functionality and card scanning will be moved to an app Google Wallet distinct. It’s a little confusing, especially for longtime Android fans (Google Pay’s old name was also Google Wallet), but it reflects Apple’s current strategy. iPhones have a Wallet app to store loyalty cards, transit cards, driver’s licenses and other data on the phone, while Apple Pay exclusively handles card payments (in-person and online).
The United States and Singapore will be the only two countries where Google Pay and Wallet will co-exist as two separate apps, at least for now. India won’t get the new Wallet app at all, and in the rest of the world Google Wallet will replace Pay entirely.
The new Wallet app will still have all your payment cards for tap-to-pay, just like the current version of Google Pay, but the end goal is for the app to store everything you might keep in one physical wallet. This includes airline tickets, bus passes, store cards/reward programs, gift cards, vaccine cards, temporary offers.
Much of this functionality is already possible with Pay, but Google wants Wallet to be more accessible – more phones will have a Wallet button on the lock screen (Pixels already have it for Pay), and related stuff will be grouped in the application. Google took the example of a concert, where you might have parking tickets, event tickets, and food stamps that would have to be held in one place. You will also be able to copy passes from Gmail and Google Photos to Wallet.
The good news is that any stores, apps, or services that work with Google Pay will continue to work normally in the new Wallet app. Google is also adding the ability for businesses to store generic passes that don’t fit existing categories in Wallet, and you have the option to use your phone’s camera to scan any existing barcodes yourself. and save them to Google Wallet (although results may vary).
Google also hopes to add support for driver’s licenses and other forms of government IDs in Wallet, but work on this feature has been underway for years. Apple added support for US state ID cards and driver’s licenses in the iPhone Wallet app last year, and Arizona was the first state to enable the feature in March.
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Google Wallet on Android Wants to Replace Your Real Wallet
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