It seems Google is no longer content with NFC based mobile payments with Android Pay, with the company today announcing a new system in testing around San Francisco. Called Hands Free, the system will allow you to pay for purchases without ever taking your phone out of your pocket.
Google has had success with Android Pay in the US, adding over 1.5 million new users a month since they launched in the US in September last year. With 9 Million users of Android Pay active in the US, that figure will expand when they launch in Australia this year.
While Android Pay is popular, Google advises that Hands Free is not actually related to Android Pay, with Google advising that you need to add a credit or debit card to the Hands Free app for it to work. The card added can be an existing card associated with Google very likely from Google Wallet, or you can simply add a new card.
Hands Free works by using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Location services on your phone as long as you have the Hands Free app, which is available on both Android and iOS, installed on your phone. With the system able to determine you’re actually on site, you can say ‘I want to pay with Google’ before the cashier verifies your identity visually based on the profile photo you upload in Hands Free.
The Hands Free pilot is currently operating in parts of San Francisco to start with, McDonalds and US-pizza chain Papa Johns are the two big names involved, however there’s also other ‘local eateries in the area’ involved in the trial.
While Hands Free is quite a step for mobile payments, they’re also testing an extension of Hands Free which uses a camera located in-store to automatically confirm your identity based on your Hands Free profile image. Google is right on the privacy game though, advising that pictures taken by the in-store camera are deleted immediately after verifying you.
At this stage, Australians would just love to get their hands on Android Pay for the time being, a service like Hands Free is just gravy. So far we’ve seen no solid launch information for Android Pay in Australia so we’ll have to wait and see.