Goodbye, Google Wallet! It's Android Pay's time to shine. Google has finally souped up its mobile payments system—though not too much. It's a pretty straightforward upgrade, with a few new features added to make it more secure than its predecessor. If you're interested in using it yourself, here's a quick primer on what you need to know about Android Pay.
What is Android Pay?
Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payment platform. It uses the existing NFC chip in your phone, just like Google Wallet. If you had Google Wallet setup beforehand, all of that existing payment information will transfer over to Android Pay—it’s essentially the same API. Android Pay will also work for person-to-person payment transactions and the app will also let you store any supported loyalty cards.
How does it work?
Let’s say you’re at a vending machine that accepts NFC payments. All you have to do is hold up the phone to the machine to pay for the beverage. An alert on the vending machine's small display will let you know if the transaction was successful. Just make sure to aim your NFC chip at the machine.
Those setting up the payment system for the first time will have to enable a device lock—either a numerical passcode, pattern unlock, or fingerprint unlock, if the phone has the hardware.
Will Android Pay work with my non-Nexus device?
Yes. Android Pay works with any Android phone, regardless of manufacturer, as long as it’s running KitKat or higher. Non-Nexus phones with integrated fingerprint scanning will also work—like the Galaxy S5 and S6, for instance.
As for carriers, Google has only announced that it's working on Android Pay with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile. Sorry, Sprint folk.
How does Google keep my information secure?
Android Pay transmits a special authorization token to merchants, so the merchant on the other end will never see your credit card number. It will, however, know if you paid with a Visa or MasterCard, for instance.
What’s the difference between this and Samsung Pay?
Samsung Pay doesn’t actually use NFC. It works a lot like LoopPay, which we tested against Google Wallet back in February. (You can read all about that experience here.) Anyway, Samsung’s mobile payments system won’t go live until this summer.
Google said that Android Pay will work alongside Samsung Pay on the Galaxy S6.