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Google Wallet

Do you feel “Scroogled” and want to show it with a range of trendy-as-ever Microsoft-branded clothing? Or are you more of a quiet type who simply wants all their subscriptions to be tied together in a single app that bears an identical name to the iOS service that does a similar job? This week’s for you so let’s dive in and take a look at what’s been going on in Mountain View!

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In a fairly quiet week for Android news, we say hello to a new phone [variant] but goodbye to a beloved classic. This week has seen Google end sales of its own flagship Nexus 4 handset while developers can now get their hands on a special edition of the Moto X. Let’s jump in and take a look! (more…)

Another week, another set of Android news. In the run up to Google I/O we’ve had a week fairly bare of news yet full of speculation. There’s been some new apparent developments in Google’s Wallet product, including the departure of Osama Bedier, the company’s Wallet Vice President, in addition to the delay of the retail Ouya, a number of app updates and more. Let’s dive in and take a look at This Week In Android! (more…)

NFC, from a hardware perspective, is yet to see mass adoption. While it’s easy enough to push the technology out to consumers over the course of a few years, support from retailers doesn’t look to be advancing very fast and could reasonably take another decade before we see significant commitment outside of the technology hubs of the world.

However, a few retailers are taking matters into their own hands and pushing out smartphone apps that encourage cashless payment outside of some sort of standardised NFC system. In this article, I’ll take a look at the current state of cashless payments in my daily life.

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One of the features of the Galaxy Nexus that I was most excited for was the inclusion of a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. NFC allows devices in close proximity (very close: about 7 inches) to send information to each other. This can work for just about anything; v-cards, directions, websites, apps, and even money. I think with wide-spread adoption, NFC could be the next big thing; but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. For today, I’m going to review Google’s flagship app for NFC, Google Wallet.

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Google Wallet was launched this week! Just as Gmail is Google’s take on email and Google+ is Google’s latest take on social networking, Google Wallet is Google’s take on paying for stuff. (For more about the technology that powers it, check out this morning’s post, Is NFC Really the Future of Payments?)

The idea is, instead of swiping a card or handing over cash to pay for something in a store, you can tap your phone on a special reader device, which will send the payment from whatever credit card you’ve authorised on your phone.

It’s very early days for this: so far, it’s only been rolled out to Sprint users, in the USA, with a Nexus S 4G (if that’s you, then your latest OTA update will include a new Wallet app), and the only credit card that can be used with it is the Citi MasterCard – though you can use a Google Prepaid Card instead, and top it up with new funds via any other credit card. Plus there are only a handful of places that accept this method of payment for now.

Personally, I’m not overwhelmed with excitement for it as it stands – I’ve no plans to move to the USA and buy a new phone just to try it out. And I’ll admit that, on paper, it doesn’t sound like a big deal: you’re just tapping instead of swiping.

It’s the first stage in a bigger movement, though. If you have a Kindle, you’ve probably seen how convenient Amazon’s 1-Click payment is when you want to buy a new e-book; it’s not that much faster than getting your credit card out and typing in the details, but it’s just that bit easier.

More exciting is the idea of consolidation: a credit card is just a piece of plastic with some basic data stored in it, but an app holds so much more potential. When I go to the supermarket, I swipe my loyalty card and my credit card separately; if I’ve received any loyalty coupons I have to remember to take them with me and swipe them as well. If all that’s stored on my phone, then presumably I’d take care of that with a single tap-to-pay.

I expect that some clever developers will write apps to let you keep track of how much you’re spending, on what, and where – like Mint, but without necessarily knowing everything about the contents of your bank account. This will be great for managing personal finances.

All that is a few years off, though, even assuming that Google are on the money with this one (it wouldn’t be the first time they’d poured a lot of time and research into a new “solution” for some problem that eventually failed).

So, I remain interested, but not too excited for now. What about you?

Google Wallet was released for Android this week. The vision is to aggregate all your payment methods – making up the third generation of payments, according to Google, after coins and paper – into a single app that can be applied to real life commerce. As they put it: “Make your phone your wallet.”

This is achieved through near-field communications, a Bluetooth-like technology that can perform an unpaired data transfer with something in the general vicinity (generally around 4cm away). The term is generally used to refer to a method of commerce between untethered devices. Let’s find out more about it.
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