The Google Play store welcomed a new addition to its app family yesterday: Android Pay, a handy application that allows users to pay at many stores using their smartphones. As Anandtech discovered, Android Pay is compatible with any smartphone running Android OS 4.4 (KitKat) or higher, assuming the phone has NFC technology. NFC stands for Near-Field Communication and is the technology that powers actions such as turning on a light when your phone is in range with it. Unfortunately, Android Pay is only available to U.S. users as of right now.
— Android (@Android) September 18, 2015
Android Pay will be a replacement for the very similar Google Wallet app, which stored loyalty and gift cards and pulled them up when needed based on GPS location data. Android Headlines noted that, while the Android Pay launch actually happened last week, the app didn’t find its way into the Google Play Store until today.
Some big names are already on board with Android Pay, including Aeropastle, McDonald’s, AT&T, and Macy’s. The official Android Pay site brags that you won’t even need to open an app to begin using it; just tap your phone against a special contactless terminal, and the phone will do the rest. Additionally, you’ll also automatically get all the checkout rewards you would get for paying with a credit card.
In addition to working at touch-free terminals, Android Pay also works within apps, meaning you can buy almost anything in one or two clicks. The good news is you won’t be asked to log in every single time you want to shop, but this of course makes the app more vulnerable to hackers or anyone who steals your phone.
Tech Radar noted that Google’s Android Pay has a few advantages over Apple Pay, including the ability to purchase items using accrued rewards points and support for all phones running Android, whereas Apple Pay only works on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This last advantage comes from the fact that Google’s Android software isn’t tied to a particular manufacturer, making it available on a wide range of different phone hardwares, including HTC, Samsung, Nexus, and Motorola.
Like Android Pay, Apple Pay also has a variety of big names supporting it, including Mastercard and Visa. This is only the beginning for Google’s new pay-by-phone system, so it will be interesting to see where it goes next.
[Image Credit: Android Official Blog]