Android Pay is here. Well, actually, it’s always been here but just under a different moniker: Google Wallet.
Google Wallet has been slimmed down, simplified, and given a overall design face-lift for the rebranding. In all actuality, though, it’s still the Google Wallet app you knew and loved.
I have enjoyed using Google Wallet for years. There are some die-hard Android fans out there that may mock others for only being interested in Google’s mobile payment system utilizing NFC technology now that Apple has Apple Pay, but I say that this is actually Google’s fault. The marketing and support from Google itself for its Wallet app was dismal.
Maybe Google didn’t put its full support behind it because it wasn’t sure if it was worth it until they saw the excitement generated by Apple users? Who knows what the thinking was in Mountain View, but if they had made an effort two years ago, there definitely wouldn’t be this false perception that Google is only now releasing such an app.
All of that prologue aside, let’s get you up and running with Android Pay.
The first thing you’ll see if you already have Google Wallet is a new app in your drawer called (you guessed it) Android Pay. Open!
You’ll now be greeted by a screen that may be different based on whether or not you just downloaded Android Pay directly from the Play Store or if you had Google Wallet already downloaded. As I had Google Wallet already downloaded, this screenshot shows what I saw when first opening Android Pay.
“Your old Google Wallet app has updated to Android Pay,” the app informs you. The top card will ask you if you want to get things set up. Yes, yes you do.
Even if you have cards loaded into Google Wallet, they won’t show automatically, indicating that they’re not loaded into the app. Fear not, they are still in Google’s database. Next to where it says “Add a credit or debit card”, click the plus button.
And there are your old Google Wallet entries! Please note that you’ll need your cards on hand because it’ll ask you for those three little numbers on the back of your cards for security purposes. Now would also be a good time to get any other information current, such as your address, in case you’ve moved and have had that changed with your bank but forgot to update Google Wallet/Android Pay.
After you have your card(s) loaded in, clicking on the plus button after that will show you some new options like Add a store gift card and Add a loyalty program.
Once you’re finished will all of this, you’ll be ready to go! Just break out your phone, unlock it, tap it on a payment terminal, and follow the instructions on your phone.
At this moment in time, Android Pay will still be using a four-digit PIN for payments. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow right around the corner and offering native fingerprint scanning support, this will most likely move over to that format should you so choose.
Special note: If you did already have Google Wallet installed, you’ll notice that you still have the app icon in your drawer. This is the app icon for the old Google Wallet app, not that new one they’re using for banking transfers. To get rid of it, I suggest this solution: select the app and you’ll be greeted by that same screen you were at the start, but at the very bottom, it’ll ask you if you want to remove the old Google Wallet app icon from your tray.
There, that will take care of that!
Again, there’s nothing too new with this app. It’s a simplified Google Wallet. In a way, I actually miss the old Google Wallet app. I liked the side panel on the left that would show me categories of things and let me manage banking stuff. I don’t want two separate apps! Less is more, Google. And while you might have simplified the payments part of Google Wallet, you made an overall increase by making two separate apps… At least for me.
You also might have noticed I have a Google Wallet debit card. This is tied into the new Google Wallet app. You can pay with it using Android Pay, but you manage its funds from the new Google Wallet app. This, too, irritates me.
In the end, though, if you’re only interested in doing mobile payments, Android Pay is probably a much better app than the old Google Wallet. As I was heavily invested in utilizing all of the functions of the old Google Wallet, that’s probably why you might detect a negative tone about all of this. Android Pay will be my solution for mobile payments payments, though, so I better get used to it! I can’t use Samsung Pay because I decided to root my Galaxy S6 Edge early on in my ownership, which trips the Knox flag and will not allow you to use Samsung Pay. Android Pay does not have this roadblock.