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September 17, 2013

Google Wallet for Android - Widely Available, Still Limited

Google Wallet's Android app was available in the Play Store, but not many people could install it. The app was limited to Sprint and a few small US carriers, Nexus devices and a few other phones. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile blocked the app because they work on a competing payment system called Isis.

Google announced that the app is now available for any Android device in the US running Gingerbread or a more recent Android version. "The updated app helps you easily send money on the go, store all your loyalty cards, save money through offers, and view all your Google Wallet activity - all in one place."

The Google Wallet added the feature that was available in Gmail: sending money to other people in the US using their email addresses. The Gmail feature is gradually rolling out, but you can manually enable it by using the Wallet app to send money. You can also add your loyalty cards by scanning the barcode or by entering the card number.

"In addition to your loyalty cards, you can easily carry and use your offers with the Google Wallet app. No matter where you've found your offer - in the Google Maps app, Google Search, Google+ or Google Offers, they're visible and redeemable in your Wallet app at checkout. And later this week, you'll also be able to save offers on select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak."

While you can install the app on any Android 2.3+ device in the US, you need an eligible device that supports NFC to tap and pay in of the many Wallet-enabled US stores. There are only 29 devices that support this feature and they're still limited to Sprint and small carriers like MetroPCS, US Cellular, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile.

So not much has changed: the main functionality of the app is not available if you use 3 of the biggest US carriers, but there are some new features that don't require NFC and work on any device.

This will probably increase Google Wallet's adoption. Until now, the app has been installed less than 10 million times.

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