Return of Google Wallet, replacing Google Pay on US phones

Surprisingly, Google has a new app. OK, you’re probably not surprised at all. Google has always had a recurring relationship with the house apps that Android phones use to access its services. Specifically, Google often likes to make big changes to them, rename them, or just kill them suddenly with little explanation. The latest Google app update is actually a resurrection: Google Wallet is back to store all your cards and personal information.

“But wait,” you ask, “Isn’t Google Pay a thing? Doesn’t it already do that?” Well yes, it does. In fact, when the Google Pay app launched It replaced older versions of Google Wallet and Android Pay on mobile phones, but at its IO event in May, Google announced that it was bringing back Wallet with new features that aren’t included with Pay.

Here are the differences. Google Pay may store credit card information and link to digital payment services such as PayPal. It may also contain airline boarding passes, vaccination cards and some transit cards. The new Google Wallet can do all of those things too, plus store your driver’s license and unlock your car if you’re driving a vehicle that supports digital keys.

The Google Pay app on your phone will soon be replaced by the Google Wallet app, and all of your payment information and other stuff you’ve stored in Google Pay will appear in Google Wallet. Google will also clean your email for gift cards or loyalty programs from any company you are signed up for. (For example, when I first logged into Google Wallet, it instantly retrieved my Southwest Airlines Quick Rewards number, something I had completely forgotten about.) Just be aware that if you delete the e- emails containing this information, this data will disappear from Wallet.

For most countries, these new features will simply be added as updates to the existing Google Pay app. But if you’re in the US or Singapore, Wallet and Pay will be two separate apps in the future. Confusing? Yes. Google par excellence? Absolutely. That’s especially odd considering Google mixed two of its video chat apps last month.

If you are confused, just download and use the Google Wallet app. It has the latest features, looks a lot like Google Pay, and can be used for purchases anywhere Google Pay is accepted.

As hard as it can be to keep up with ever-changing apps, switching from an analog wallet to a digital wallet (or similar Apple wallet if you’re on an iPhone) is a good idea. These digital wallets keep everything organized, encrypt your purchases, and offer more security than an easily misplaced piece of leather stuffed with a stack of credit cards.

Here’s more news on web gear.

Galaxy Unpacked is near (again)

Samsung has announced that its Galaxy Unpacked event will take place on Wednesday, August 10. It’s the biannual ceremony Samsung uses to reveal its updated phones and devices. (Yes, there was only one Unpacked event in February.) Expect to see new Galaxy phones and tablets. In the invite images, Samsung teases at least one new foldable thingy.

Samsung claims that of all the foldables it has sold, 70% of them were Galaxy Flip models. It’s the smallest phone-sized device, and since it’s so well made, there’s a good chance we’ll see more from Samsung in similar form factors. Stay tuned on the day of the event for WIRED coverage of everything Samsung will announce.

Primary care

Unlike its ever-shrinking namesake, Amazon, the company just keeps growing. This week, the empire spawned by Bezos announced that it had acquired One Medical, a company that provides online and in-person healthcare services to subscribed patients in more than a dozen US cities. The nearly $4 billion deal gives Amazon access to data from nearly 800,000 patients across the United States. That said, Amazon might have its hands full with One Medical’s checkered history. The company faced a scandal last year when it was accused of prioritizing the administration of Covid vaccines to executives and other supervisors over those most at risk.

Many can point to the irony of Amazon’s sudden investment in people’s health, seeing how the company is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors for safety breaches at its warehouses.

The awesome future of Facebook

Facebook may have changed its name to Meta, but that hasn’t stopped controversies from sticking to the company. Recently, Facebook decided to change the way its activity feeds work again, in order to catch up with TikTok. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is being fired again following a lawsuit stemming from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal. And Amazon is suing administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups over allegedly fake reviews. Then there’s everything going on with Facebook’s vision for the metaverse.

Joining this week’s Gadget Lab podcast are Shirin Ghaffary from Recode and Alex Heath with The Verge. They talk about the big decisions from Facebook’s early days that led to the company’s tumultuous transformation into Meta, and what awaits the platform and everyone who uses it.


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