Google is going to stop its Hands Free payment app trials in the San Francisco Bay area after ten months and hundreds of purchases. Android Pay will now be the only pay method by the company after the app shuts down on February 8.
Members of the experimental program could pay by just saying “Paying with Google” at select stores participating in the tests. The cashier needed only to verify the customer’s identity to finish the transaction.
The search giant has pledged to use the data gathered from the Hands Free experience on iOS and Android. People speculate the wireless technology may integrate with Android Pay or a new platform entirely.
What is Google Hands Free and how does it work?
Launched in March 2016, Google Hands Free was (or is, until February 8 at least) an alternative payment method.
Users registered for the program and got to download the app, in which they had to upload a profile picture of themselves as a security measure.
The way in which it worked during purchases was basically a two-step verification process: the customer would say “paying with Google” at an affiliated store, provide his initials, and the Hands Free system would pull up their profile pic.
How did Hands Free know the customer was there? Through a combination of location services, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth Low Energy on the user’s smartphone that paired with the in-store platform.
People grocery shopping or buying clothes did not even need to pull out their phones for verification. Just saying the magic words and checking out were good enough to complete the purchase.
What about the customers?
While the technology was clearly revolutionary, it seems it did not have the impact Google expected, and the app will be phased out. Supposedly, the company is going to load the collected data into the Android Pay database.
In a letter sent to members of the program, the company blurrily outlined the future of Hands Free going forward.
“BASED ON ALL THE POSITIVE FEEDBACK, WE’RE NOW WORKING TO BRING THE BEST OF THE TECHNOLOGY TO EVEN MORE PEOPLE AND STORES […] IN THE MEANTIME, WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO START ENJOYING QUICK, EASY CHECKOUT WITH ANDROID PAY,” the email read.
Google added users should not worry about Hands Free keeping their personal information, as they will delete all pictures and configurations after the app shuts down.
Adopters of Android Pay will receive a $10 gift card to use at Whole Foods if they sign up and use it during the next two weeks. Shoppers interested in the future of the app can sign up for email updates to stay tuned for upcoming developments.