Google’s mobile payment platform has gone through almost as many revamps as its messaging apps, but maybe today will be the last one for a long time. Google is completing its transition to the “Google Pay” platform, which will absorb both Android Pay and Google Wallet. There’s even a shiny new app to go along with the new branding.
The roots of Google Pay reach all the way back to 2011 and the Nexus S 4G on Sprint. Back in those days, you needed carrier support to do NFC payments, but it’s not like there were a lot of stores accepting them. Google’s next attempt was Android Pay, which launched in 2015. With Android Pay, your bank had to support the platform, but carriers were not involved. It took time, but most banks have come around now.
The issue with Android Pay was not the implementation, but the name. Google intended to offer Android Pay as an online checkout option, but calling it Android Pay doesn’t make much sense in that context. The Google Pay branding started appearing on the web some weeks ago, but now Google is rolling out an updated app to eliminate the Android Pay branding altogether.
When you get the new Google Pay app on your Android phone, you’ll notice a lot of changes in addition to the name. The interface is now separated into two tabs. In the Home tab, you get your main payment card above a scrollable list of tiles that list nearby stores with NFC payments and recent transactions. It also pops up compatible loyalty cards and offers based on location information (if you allow that access). In the Cards tab, you can see all your credit and debit cards as well as loyalty cards.
Meanwhile, the Google Wallet app is getting some attention, too. The Google Wallet branding stuck around after Android Pay, but it was only used to send money to people. The Wallet app is becoming Google Pay Send, and the functionality should be mostly unchanged.
Developers and websites interested in supporting Google Pay can add it with a simple API. Google says the setup process is easy because it’s not processing the payments itself. Google just passes along a virtual card number to the retailer and the charges show up on your statement normally. You can use Google Pay with Airbnb, Lyft, and more. Google Pay’s mobile payments work in any store that supports NFC on the payment terminal.
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