Surprise, Google has a new app. Okay, you’re probably not that surprised. Google has always had an on-again, off-again relationship with the homegrown apps that Android phones use to access its services. Specifically, Google often likes to make big changes to them, rename them, or just suddenly kill them without having to explain. The latest update to the Google app is actually a resurrection: Google Wallet has returned to store all your cards and personal information.
“But wait,” you ask, “isn’t Google Pay a thing? Doesn’t it already do that?” Well, it does. In fact, back when the Google Pay app launched, it replaced the old versions of Google Wallet and Android Pay on mobile phones. But at its IO event in May, Google announced that it was take back Wallet with some new features not included in Pay.
Here are the differences. Google Pay may store credit card information and link to digital payment services such as PayPal. It can also hold airline boarding passes, proof of vaccination cards and some transit cards. The new Google Wallet can also do all of these things, plus store your driver’s license and unlock your car if you drive a vehicle that supports digital keys.
The Google Pay app on your phone will soon be replaced by the Google Wallet app, and all your payment information and other things you’ve stored in Google Pay will appear in Google Wallet. Google will also scrub your email for gift cards or any company loyalty programs you’re enrolled in. (For example, when I first logged into Google Wallet, it immediately retrieved my Southwest Airlines Express Rewards number, something I had completely forgotten about. Had.) Just know that if you delete emails that contain that information, that data will disappear from Wallet.
For most countries, these new features will only be added as updates to the existing Google Pay app. But if you’re in the US or Singapore, Wallet and Pay will be two separate apps going forward. Mazy? Yes. Definitely Google? Very much so. It’s especially strange considering Google mashed together two of its video chat apps just last month.
If you’re confused, just get and use the Google Wallet app. It has the latest features, feels very similar to Google Pay, and can be used for purchases anywhere Google Pay is accepted.
As much of a headache as it can be to keep track of the ever-changing apps, it’s a good idea to switch from an analog wallet to the digital wallet (or the likes of Apple Wallet if you’re using an iPhone). These digital wallets keep everything organized, encrypt your purchases and offers more security than a slightly misplaced piece of leather filled with a wad of credit cards.
Here’s some more gear news from around the web.
Galaxy Unpacked Is Negh (Again)
Samsung announced that their Galaxy Unpacked event will take place Wednesday, August 10. It’s the biannual ceremony that Samsung uses to reveal its updated phones and devices. (Yes, there was only one Unpacked event in February.) Expect to see new Galaxy phones and tablets. In the invitation images, Samsung teases at least one new foldable thingamajig.
Samsung says that of all the foldable devices it has sold, 70 percent of them have been Galaxy Flip models. It’s the smaller, more phone-sized device of the bunch, and since it’s done so well, chances are we’ll see more from Samsung in similar form factors. Stay tuned on the day of the event for WIRED’s coverage of everything Samsung will announce.
Unlike his ever shrinking namesake, Amazon the company just keeps expanding. This week, the empire created by Bezos announced that it had acquired One Medical, a company that provides online and in-person healthcare services to subscribing patients in over a dozen US cities. The nearly $4 billion deal gives Amazon access to data from almost 800,000 patients across the United States. That said, Amazon may have its hands full with One Medical’s rocky history. The company faced a scandal last year when it was accused of prioritizing giving Covid vaccines to leadership and other senior managers over people who were more vulnerable.
Many may point to the irony of Amazon’s sudden investment in human health, given the company’s current state under investigation by federal prosecutors for security violations at its warehouse.
Facebook’s funky future
Facebook may have been renamed Meta, but that hasn’t stopped controversy from sticking to the company. Recently, Facebook has decided to once again change the way its Activity Feeds work, in an effort to catch up with TikTok. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg gets set aside again over a lawsuit from 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. And Amazon is suing administrators for more than that 10,000 Facebook groups due to alleged fake reviews. Then there’s whatever happens with Facebook’s vision for metaverse.
Join this week’s Gadget Lab podcast is Shirin Ghaffary of Recode and Alex Heath with The Verge. They talk about the big decisions from Facebook’s early days that led to the company’s tumultuous transformation into Meta, and what lies ahead for the platform—and everyone who uses it.
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