In spite of the great initial expectations, Wallet has been one of Google’s less successful services, with in-store payments remaining to this day available only on a limited number of devices carried by Sprint and a few smaller operators. One could argue that the blame for this failure belongs to the other three big US carriers, who support Isis, a competing mobile payment service.
Even if in-store payments seem dead in the water for now, Google isn’t willing to give up on Wallet just yet: the company announced a big update to the Android app, which is now available for the vast majority of Android devices in the US. While paying via NFC remains limited to the devices that have supported it until now, users of all devices running Android 2.3 or higher will soon be able to install Google Wallet.
Wallet gains some new features in the update. Foremost, users will be able to send money to any adult person in the United States, provided they have an email address. Money can be sent for free from the Wallet balance or from a bank account, or from a credit or debit card, in which case there’s a small fee in place. This is similar to the Send money through Gmail option that Google began to offer this summer.
Another interesting new feature of Google Wallet for Android is support for loyalty cards. Users can scan the barcodes on loyalty cards or type in their codes, and present the app at checkout for scanning. The new app also features Google Offers coupon integration, as well as a dashboard to track financial activity.