Google Experiments With Hands Free Payment: Here's How It Works
Google is experimenting with its hands-free payment app enabling users to pay for their purchased items without having to pull out their smartphones or wallets.
Dubbed Hands Free, this pilot app, as its name suggests, lets users pay in stores "quickly, easily and completely hands-free."
"When you think about a user, in a bunch of situations, the experience is quite crummy right now, it's quite clunky," says Pali Bhat, senior director of product management at Google. "You don't want your phone in the way, your wallet in the way, you don't want your cash in the way. These are inconveniences that happen multiple times a day."
Hands Free is currently available for Android and iOS users. Google says that even Android devices running earlier versions of Android, which go all the way back to Jellybean, are compatible with this app. This app was initially teased in May 2015, though no launch details were disclosed for this particular service.
Google said on Wednesday that the company is inviting residents of the South Bay (near San Francisco) to try out its new payment app and provide feedback about the service.
The company is initially rolling out the service, though, to a small number of local eateries in the place, such as Papa John's and McDonald's.
How The App Works
As soon as users have installed and set up Hands Free, the app uses Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi and location services on the handset to detect whether they are close to participating stores.
Once users are ready to pay, they will simply tell the cashier that they are paying with Google. The cashier will then ask for their initials and confirm their identity through the profile picture they added to the app.
The company also says that it is in its early stages of trying its visual identification system to help in checking out faster. The system should automatically confirm the users' identity based on their profile picture on the app by means of the in-store camera. For those who think that this may sound a bit creepy, Google says that the images the system captures are immediately erased.
"We'll continue to improve the technology behind Hands Free, and we're excited to hear your feedback," says Bhat.
Google is also giving up to $5 discount on the first purchase of users who will try Hands Free at selected stores.
If this new service turns out to be successful, it will help Android Pay continue to grow even further. Google sees an average of 1.5 million new registrations every month in the United States alone. Moreover, there exist more than 2 million locations accepting Android tap and pay.