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Google Wallet client lands on iOS, missing a key feature

Marco Tabini | Sept. 20, 2013
Google's Wallet service has arrived on iOS with a native app that is well-designed, but ultimately only mildly useful.

google wallet

On Thursday, iOS devices gained yet one more way to manage your financial details, thanks to the release of an official client for Google's Wallet service.

Available as a free download from the App Store, the app clocks in at a little over 8MB, and requires iOS 6.0 or above. Unfortunately, it doesn't come as a universal binary, which means that, if you want to access Wallet on an iPad, you are forced to either use its iPhone emulator or rely on the service's Web-based interface.

No NFC? No problem
Although Google Wallet has been available on the Web since 2011, a client for iOS has been a long time coming, due in no small part to the fact that the search giant originally intended to only provide the service through devices capable of supporting near-field communication (NFC) technologies—technologies that Apple has, so far, refused to add to any of its mobile devices.

It seems that Google has finally given up on waiting any longer for the folks in Cupertino to change their mind, and decided to release the app anyway. Without an NFC chip, however, the software is missing one of its key features on Android devices: the ability to use your phone in lieu of cash or credit cards to pay for your purchases at participating merchants.

Still, Wallet has plenty to offer even if you won't be able to buy your groceries by waving your phone at the cashier.

A wallet in your phone
True to its name, Wallet is a... well, wallet in which you can store all your credit cards, and even track the loyalty programs in which you participate.

The ability to save credit card numbers is of limited utility if you install the app on your phone, since it's probably quicker to just grab a card out of your wallet. Loyalty programs, however, are a different story. If you're tired of carrying those little keychain tags and cards everywhere only to find out that you've left the one you actually need at home, the Wallet app pretty much eliminates that problem completely.

All you need to do is take a few minutes to scan the barcodes on your loyalty cards using your phone's camera, and they will be safely stored right inside Wallet—which, unlikely its real-life counterpart, won't swell and weigh you down with every little piece of plastic you add to it. To make things even better, the app can provide a digital replica of the barcodes that can be scanned by merchants without the need for manual input or specialized equipment.


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