Google Launches New Mobile App for Hands Free Payments

The search engine company has piloted a new voice-activated app that is expected to make purchases more convenient and quick.

Google has unveiled a new payment service that will enable people to pay using just their voice. Dubbed Hands Free, the app will let users to buy goods without the need to take out their wallets or phones.

Google has first announced Hands Free last year during its I/O conference in San Francisco. The system is currently under testing in several restaurants and stores of San Francisco Bay Area, including Papa John’s and McDonalds. The service will be available for owners of both iOS and Android devices.

“Imagine if you could rush through a drive-thru without reaching for your wallet, or pick up a hot dog at the ballpark without fumbling to pass coins or your credit card to the cashier,” Google wrote in its blog. “This prompted us to build a pilot app called Hands Free that we’re now in the early stages of testing. It lets you pay in stores quickly, easily, and completely hands-free.”

Hands Free, which is separate from the company’s Android Pay app, supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth low energy to enable communication between the cashier and the app. To make a payment, a user needs to say “I’ll pay with Google”, after what the cashier will confirm the person’s identity and complete the purchase. All information and photos taken by Hands Free camera will then be automatically deleted.

The registration process requires just a few steps. After downloading the app, you will have to verify your identity by uploading your photo and then add a debit or credit card. You can also add a card that is integrated into your Google account. To complete a payment, a user needs to say “I’ll pay with Google”, after what the cashier will confirm the purchase.

Hands Free, however, is not the only app allowing to pay with your photo or voice. In 2013, online payments giant PayPal introduced Beacon, a Bluetooth-supported hardware device for retailers to let customers pay using the app.

A few years ago, mobile payments processor Square developed Square Wallet, an app that allowed people to conduct payments by telling the cashier their names. But the idea failed, as the number of merchants that integrated the app was too low.

Google’s Android Pay app, which was launched in September 2015, is currently used at more than 2 million locations, including Macy’s, McDonalds, Bloomingdale’s and Express.

The service is now available only in the US, but is scheduled to go live in the UK and Autralia this year. Since Android Pay’s launch a year ago, Google has recorded about 1.5 million new registrations per month.

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